B.O.B., the acronym for “The Brotherhood of the Barrel,” has become synonymous with the Chicago Firefighters’ Strike of 1980.  The phrase stems from the men who were on strike from February 14 to March 7, 1980.  To keep warm in frigid temperatures, the striking firefighters gathered around makeshift heaters which were fifty-five gallon drums set afire.  Despite the cold, the picket lines were never abandoned for the full 23 days of the strike.  

As firefighters, we enjoy the benefits we have today due to the tireless effort and unwavering spirit of those firefighters in 1980 who did not blink.  The 1980 strike was and remains controversial to this day.  Although the strike was against the City of Chicago and Mayor Jane Byrne, there were heated debates between firefighters on whether to “walk” or “stay in.”  

The Northside Fire Brigade hosts events and parties sponsored by the B.O.B.  If an event flier or party invitation is marked with “B.O.B.” that event excludes those who crossed the picket lines in 1980. 

If you have any pictures from the strike, please send them to archives@nsfb.org.


This barrel sat outside of fire engine company #110 during the local #2 firefighter strike of 1980.