Tag: African-American firefighters

Black Fire Brigade in Chicago Opens Center for City’s Youth, Plans to Provide Mentorship and Training

Chicago’s Black Fire Brigade opens new facility (Photo via twitter.com)

via newsone.com

Chicago’s Black Fire Brigade—a group of the city’s African American firefighters and EMTs—wants to inspire youth to pursue careers in fire science. The group recently opened a new center in Ashburn designed to train the firefighters of tomorrow, ABC Chicago reported.

The brigade pays homage to firefighters and paramedics of color who have lost their lives while serving, the news outlet writes. The group hopes that the legacies of these fallen heroes will live on through youngsters who come to the center and show interest in joining the fire department when they get older. At the center, they will provide mentorship and training to help Black men and women prepare for the firefighter’s exam.

Founder and president of the Black Fire Brigade Quention Curtis says that he hopes the new center will serve as a haven for Chicago’s Black youth and prevent them from getting involved in the streets. “This is about saving these kids’ lives who are dying in the streets every day,” he told the news outlet. “It’s about bringing these firefighters together so we can do that.”

The center was also created as an avenue to overcome racial inequalities that Black firefighters have experienced in the department. According to the Chicago Sun-Times, the city has shelled out $92 million in settlements due to the Chicago Fire Department’s discriminatory hiring practices against people of color and women. “There are so few of us, and we’ve been so separated. We’ve never come together as a whole to discuss our issues, how to address them. My thing is to end all that,” said Curtis.

The center will live at 84th and Kedzie. There was a ribbon-cutting ceremony held on Saturday.

Source: https://newsone.com/3813064/chicagos-black-fire-brigade-youth-clubhouse/

Tara Walker Sworn in as Jersey City’s First Black Woman Firefighter

Jersey City Firefighter Tara Walker (Photo Credit: Reena Rose Sibayan)

Tara Walker, 31, a high school girls basketball legend who scored 2,376 points in her Marist High School career, is now one of six women in the Jersey City Fire Department, and the first black female firefighter in the department’s 143-year history.

The diverse class includes two black men, four Hispanic men and an Asian man, city officials pointed out on Monday.

“Now today is really a great day because if you look at the 26 men and women sitting to my right, to your left, it really represents everything that is great about Jersey City,” Jersey City Mayor Steve Fulop said at the ceremony. “It is a diverse class, it is a young class, it is a motivated class, it is a class of people that have dedicated and lived their lives here in Jersey City.”

The new class brings the number of Jersey City firefighters to 557. City officials said that 47 members have been hired since Fulop took office.

RELATED: Bronx Firefighter Danae Mines Becomes 1st Woman Featured In FDNY Calendar of Heroes

“Waited for it since I was a kid,” said Anthony Silleto, 26, after he was sworn in. “It’s great.”

Kevin Ramirez, 28, said he’s excited to become a part of the department and serve Jersey City.

“It’s a wonderful feeling, a great feeling,” he said. “We’ve lived our whole lives here. I’m happy, I’m excited to become a part of it and meet the rest of the family.”

The hiring of the firefighters was made possible by funds from a $6.9 million federal Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) grant. The grant is expected to fund up to 49 new firefighters in total.

The 26 firefighters trained for eight weeks at the Morris County Public Safety Training Academy.

article via forharriet.com and nj.com

Bronx Firefighter Danae Mines Becomes 1st Woman Featured In FDNY Calendar of Heroes


Danae Mines is an 11-year veteran with the FDNY and is one of New York City’s few female firefighters. Next March, Mines will also be the first woman the first woman featured in the FDNY Calendar of Heroes, even though she was initially told the calendar honor was only for men.

“I was told that it was all guys,” Mines, who is assigned to Engine Co. 60 in the South Bronx, told the Daily News.  “They said if I made it in the calendar, I would look like a pinup girl.”

But that didn’t stop her from attending an open call and breaking the gender barriers.  “I wasn’t going to let anyone tell me I couldn’t do what I wanted to do,” she said. “I was determined.”

Mines was surrounded by 100 men at the audition, and admits to feeling intimidated.  “I was a little scared,” said Mines. “I was the only female.”

Mines’ dreams of becoming a firefighter began when she was just 10 years old after one of the city’s Bravest visited her school to talk about the job.  But her family told her that she should consider another career, because only men joined the FDNY.  “I had absolutely no support from my family when I wanted to come on the job,” she said.

Mines became an EMT and, despite her family’s requests, accepted a promotion to become a firefighter in 2003. And she hasn’t been able to stop her relatives from gloating about her ever since.  “Once I graduated (from the Fire Academy), it was the complete opposite,” she said. “They could not stop bragging.”

Despite being one of 41 women firefighters in the department, Mines said she’s faced with no more challenges than any other man on the job.  Mines didn’t end up looking like a pin-up model, as you can tell from the photo. The proceeds from the calendar goes directly to the FDNY Foundation to promote fire safety education for city residents, as well as new equipment for the firehouses. But Mines said she had a bigger reason in doing the calendar.

“I wanted my picture in the calendar so that young girls and young women can see me and know that they can do this job,” she said.

article via clutchmagonline.com

Blind Man Tommy Barber Receives Award For Saving Woman From Apartment Fire

Tommy Barber blind man

Diane Marshall of Fort Pierce, Florida has quite a lot to be thankful for this holiday season.  She was rescued in September from a burning apartment fire by her neighbor Susan Laney and friend Tommy Barber (pictured), who is blind. On Tuesday, the duo each received an award for their bravery from the St. Lucie Fire District.  Special mention was given to Barber, who despite his disability, managed to help get Marshall safely away from the blaze, according to WPBF News 25.

Barber told firefighters Marshall was asleep in her apartment when he realized there was a fire. He had gone over to Laney’s home to visit when they smelled smoke. Barber’s blindness never kept him from wanting to help Marshall, as he and Laney grabbed a fire extinguisher and pushed their way into the woman’s apartment.  The dynamic pair somehow managed to get Marshall out of the burning space, with neither person sustaining an injury.

Watch video of the news story below:

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Firefighter Jabari S. Jumaane Awarded $1.1 Million in Racial Bias Suit

Jabari Jumaane said that as a fire inspector he was subjected to racial slurs, jokes and other abuse. (Irfan Khan, Los Angeles Times / February 13, 2011)
Jabari Jumaane said that as a fire inspector he was subjected to racial slurs, jokes and other abuse. (Irfan Khan, Los Angeles Times / February 13, 2011)

A civil court jury Monday returned a $1.1-million verdict against the city of Los Angeles, finding in favor of a black firefighter who said he had been discriminated against during a nearly three-decade career because of his race.  The verdict comes after 16 days of deliberations — and six years after another jury ruled against Jabari S. Jumaane, who alleged a pattern of racial bias, harassment and retaliation in the Los Angeles Fire Department when he worked as a fire inspector. That decision was overturned after an appeals court granted a new trial, agreeing that there had been jury misconduct in the original case.

According to a 2012 report by the city’s office of the independent assessor on Fire Department litigation, Jumaane’s allegation of jury misconduct included a declaration by a juror who “claimed to have witnessed racially motivated misconduct by fellow jurors.”  The retrial jury’s ruling is a blow to a department that has found itself accused of systematic discrimination — particularly against black firefighters — in the past.  “We just received the verdict and are reviewing the decision and assessing all options including grounds for appeal,” said Rob Wilcox, a spokesman for City Atty. Mike Feuer.

Jumaane, who has been with the department for more than 27 years but is no longer an inspector, said he was pleased but not surprised by the jury’s conclusion.  “I think the evidence speaks for itself,” he said. “The evidence beckoned for the verdict the jury found.”

His attorney, Nana Gyamfi, said the verdict was long in coming.  “It’s more than just a sense of gratitude, it’s a sense of vindication,” she said. “As he said during the trial when he was questioned by the defense, all he was looking for was for some reasonable people to take a look at his situation and recognize the injustice within it. And that’s what happened.”

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Berkeley’s First Woman Firefighter Debra Pryor Retires as First Woman Chief

Berkeley Fire Chief Debra Pryor is retiring Dec. 28, 2012 after 27 years in the Berkeley fire department. She was the city’s first woman firefighter, the first woman chief and the second black woman to head a fire department in the nation. (Doug Oakley/Staff)

BERKELEY, CA — It’s a drizzly cold Tuesday evening and Berkeley Fire Chief Debra Pryor is outside the city’s public safety building talking to a homeless man with two shopping carts piled high with possessions.  The man loops in and out of lucidity, but Pryor doesn’t appear annoyed, pressed for time or afraid. She listens and talks to him, then politely wraps it up and approaches a second man to ask if he needs help deciphering the front desk hours of the police station.

Pryor, 51, is retiring Friday after 27 years in the fire department and 27 years of smashing race and gender barriers: she was the city’s first female firefighter, its first female fire chief and the second black female fire chief in the country behind Rosemary Cloud of East Point, Ga. (Earlier this year Oakland named Teresa Deloach Reed as its fire chief, making her the first black woman fire chief of a major metropolitan city.)

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After 17 Years, Black Candidates Become Firefighters

Eighty six of the 98 new firefighters who graduated Thursday were bypassed by a discriminatory 1995 entrance exam. Sharon Wright reports.

At age 53, Marvin Jones finally became the fireman he’d always dreamed of becoming.  “It’s been a long struggle. I feel blessed. I’m almost closed to tears,” he said before walking across the stage in Navy Pier’s Grand Ballroom to shake hands with Mayor Rahm Emanuel.  Jones was among 98 new firefighters who graduated Thursday, 86 of whom were overlooked by city officials who used discriminatory practices in evaluating applicant scores for a 1995 entrance exam.

“It is my hope that we never, ever make those mistakes again,” said Mayor Rahm Emanuel, stressing that the Chicago Fire Department should be as diverse as the city it serves.

After a series of back-and-forth legal battles over the years, Chicago was ordered in May 2011 to hire 111 black firefighters and pay a total of $30 million to nearly 6,000 clients listed in the class-action lawsuit known as the Lewis case.

Would-be firefighters who chose other career paths and those who chose to bypassed a “jobs lottery” six months later received cash awards of at least $5,000 per person.

Jones never took that payout, opting instead to follow his dream.

“We persevered. We’re here today. We’re graduating. We’re about to be Chicago firefighters,” said Jones, a postal worker for 33 years.

Source: http://www.nbcchicago.com/blogs/ward-room/chicago-fire-department-graduation-176881481.html#ixzz2BGFsOIwY

Profiles Of Courage: The Rich History Of African-American Fighters

History Black Firefighters

Article below reprinted from newsone.com:

The men and women who serve on the front lines as firefighters, rescuing citizens in harm’s way, should be saluted daily for their bravery. In one of the most-dangerous and selfless occupations in the world, firefighters risk their lives for the safety of others at a moment’s notice. Even though history has not been kind to the memory of African-American firemen, their contribution to firefighting is a significant one. Still, even with the most-dedicated research, it is difficult to ascertain who were the first African-Americans who took up the role as firefighters.

Several sources, including the richly detailed website from historian Mike Legeros, all point to the summer of 1817 as being the earliest record that Black firemen existed in New Orleans, La. Although Black men stamping out blazes could have happened before then, there is no real evidence available in capturing this historic truth. According to Legeros, 1821 and 1833 also show evidence of freed men joining firemen ranks in New Orleans, but like before, the records were poorly kept and the facts disjointed.

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