The Country’s First Black Fire Brigade for firefighters and emergency medical technicians kicks off its mission to promote and protect this growing community.
An industrious eight-year-old boy and a resourceful Chicago firefighter will be recognized at the June 23, 2018, grand opening of the Black Fire Brigade’s new home.
Torey Ankum already spends every moment he can at the site, painting and helping get it ready for business – even though he’s only in third grade. At the grand opening, he’ll receive the first-annual Corey Ankum Leadership Award, honoring his father, who died in the line of duty while battling a blaze in a vacant, one-story building that collapsed on18 firefighters in 2010.
The group will also present its first-annual Arthur “Lee” Lewis Jr. Award, commemorating the African American who won a 2010 federal lawsuit for the City of Chicago to hire 111 African American firefighters. The inaugural honoree will be Eric Washington, the firefighter who in 2016 rallied the Chicago community to collect and deliver thousands of cases of water to help residents of Flint, Mich., dealing with toxic tap water.
“We’re proud to help our members do everything from studying to advancing in their careers, to honoring fallen comrades, to mentoring each other and the next generation, to networking and bringing our voice to public discussions, to fundraising, and even to hosting special events at our beautiful facility,” says Quention Curtis, president and founder of the Black Fire Brigade. “We’re focusing on Chicago, but we welcome all African American firefighters and EMS personnel, as well as their families and friends, to leverage us as a resource to engage with each other and with the broader community.”
A highlight of the event will be the unveiling of a memorial acknowledging 13 Black firefighters and paramedics who died in the line of duty, and a display of their badges. In addition, the Chicago police and firefighter honor guards will conduct the posting of the colors.
Invited guests will also include Derrick Curtis, Alderman, 18th Ward; Carrie Austin, Alderman, 34th Ward; Jesse White, Illinois Secretary of State; U.S. Representative Bobby Rush; former Chicago Fire Commissioner John Brooks; and Mattie Rawski, the city’s First African-American female firefighter.