My name is George Richards, I am the current President of the Montana State Council of Professional Firefighters and the Firemen’s Association. I was elected to this position in September 2020. I am a professional firefighter with the rank of Engineer for the City of Billings. I have been employed in this position since 2006 and been in the fire field as a volunteer since 1995 and an ARFF firefighter from 2003-2006. I am married to a wonderful woman (Chandra) now of 16 years. We have 4 lovely daughters (MyKenzie, Niah, Brityn, & Jayda) and we love to travel, go camping, 4-wheeling, spend time with friends & family and cheer on our daughters in their sports.
I come from a strong union household. My father was a proud union member and even served as a union officer for many years throughout his career. He believed in the representation of unions and what they brought to the workforce. This instilled in me a deep passion and appreciation for the union and what it can symbolize and create in the lives of those in the work force.
I started as a shop steward shortly after being hired by the City and moved up thru the different E-board positions until reaching the position of Vice President of our Local 521. In 2012 I was elected to serve on the State Firemen’s Association as an advisory member to the pension board. In 2016 I was elected to the State Council and served as a District 1 Representative. This position allowed me the privilege to serve some of our smaller communities in MT and help ensure to them that their voices are heard and that they have a place within our state organizations. This is something I really enjoyed doing and it gave me the opportunity to travel and meet the members in a communal way that created trust, friendships and comradery amongst us. In 2018 I was elected to Vice President of the MSCOPFF and in 2019 I was elected to serve as Vice President of the Montana State Firemen’s Association, a role I felt gave me an opportunity to continue to build relations, improve member engagement and bring solidarity to our members.
I also had the honor of being involved with the long-term pursuit of the Firefighters Health & Safety Bill that was recently passed in the 2019 legislative year. This initiative was started many years ago by others that lead the way for us all and I was able to be a part of helping bring this long overdue bill to fruition.
Being a member and a leader in the MSCOPFF & MSFA has meant a great deal to me and I am proud to be a member of this establishment. It is my desire to serve our members equally by encouraging unity, integrity, ownership and an open platform where we all feel a sense of ownership and belonging.
District Vice President
I currently work for Billings Fire Department. I have been on the job for 5 years. I became passionate about being a member of Local 521 and served on the Executive board for 2 terms as Officer at large and Finance officer.
I am newly married to my wife Nicole and we are going through life in the most fun way!
I was born and raised in Texas. Full ride soccer scholarship to Valparaiso University in Valparaiso, Indiana where I played forward. I started my fire service career in my senior of college as a volunteer for Washington township. I graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Sports Management with a minor in business. I moved to Colorado after college to pursue a wildland firefighting position and also volunteered for Franktown Fire Protection District in Franktown, Colorado. I was there for 2 years before moving to Oregon to achieve an Associate degree in Fire Science.
I was a resident volunteer for West Valley Fire department in Willimina, Oregon for 2 years. I then took a position as an Incident Responder with the State of Oregon Department of Transportation. I was in this position for 3 years before moving to Billings, Montana.
I currently hold the District Vice President position representing District 1 for our great state of Montana. I represent Billings local 521, Lockwood local 3658, Miles City local 600 and Glendive local 2242.
I am humbled to have had the long journey to get to the dream I am living! I am appreciative of the chances I was given that led me to where I am. I am honored to being serving all of you!
Currently, I work as a Battalion Chief/ Paramedic with Missoula Rural Fire District (MRFD). I have been with MRFD for a total of 25 years (18 career/ 7 volunteer). I am married to my best friend (Shelly) and have 2 awesome boys (Matthew and Andrew). We currently reside in Stevensville, MT.
Early on in my involvement with Local 2457, Missoula Rural Firefighters, I was elected as the Treasurer in 2003 and retained that position for 7 years. In 2013, I was elected to the Montana State Firemen’s Association as a Pension Advisory Board member to District 3. 2 years later at the MSFA Whitefish Convention, I was elected to be the Secretary/ Treasurer, the position in which I currently serve.
When I was hired with MRFD, we were in the Public Employee’s Retirement System (PERS) retirement system as we are a Fire District. It was always concerning to me and several other agencies/ districts that we were in a separate pension system from the other municipal fire departments. In 2007, I advocated for the legislation that would allow fire districts into the Firefighter’s Unified Retirement System (FURS). We were successful during the 2007 Legislative Session in allowing fire districts and MT Air National Guard into FURS (MCA 19-13-210 (3) (a)). This was a pivotal point in my in career when I became more involved in the issues that affect Firefighters in Montana and throughout the IAFF.
Since my election to the Executive Board of the MSFA, I have fought tirelessly for our Members and their families. I have made it a point to enhance and continue to grow the benefits to our MSFA members. Several items I have worked to enhance in the Secretary/ Treasurer’s office have been: an approach to be more digital in all communication and financial aspects, education of members and their families to the benefits of the MSFA, a continued transparency of the financial standings with members, and a better accountability for the members’ life insurance. I have also been heavily involved in the maintenance and governing of the MSFA’s Helena House.
I work alongside a dedicated and talented Board of individuals in the MSFA and share a great relationship with my counterpart in the MSCOPFF. We have not only brought alignment to the organizations since my tenure began, but we have truly connected with each other as professional representatives and as friends. I also serve as a member of the MSFA Honor Guard.
I will always strive to bring the best benefits to our Members and their families and will continue to fight hard for the protection and growth of the FURS pension.
Thank you for allowing me to serve for the last 5 years as your Secretary/ Treasurer. I will commit to continuing to serve you to the best of my abilities throughout my time on this Executive Board.