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African American History Month:
A Celebration of Pioneers in the American Fire Service

Posted on February 10, 2011 by Acting U.S. Fire Administrator Glenn Gaines

In celebration of African American History Month this February, I thought it would be most appropriate to look back and remember African Americans who have lead the way in making American fire service history:

African Americans in the U.S. Fire Service

According to the most recent (2009) Bureau of Labor Statistics data there are:

  • 18,600 African-Americans career firefighters (making up 7.5% of the career firefighter population of 284,000).
  • 10,900 African-American career emergency medical technicians and paramedics (representing 7.9% of the emergency medical services work force).
  • 3,942 African-American career fire service officers (first line supervisors or higher) comprising 7.3% of supervisory positions within the career fire service (54,000 total).
On May 19, 1876, Indianapolis Fire Chief W. O. Sherwood appointed the first four African Americans to the Indianapolis Fire Department.

On May 19, 1876, Indianapolis Fire Chief W. O. Sherwood appointed the first four African Americans to the Indianapolis Fire Department. Photo: Indianapolis Fire Department

It is important for the American Fire Service to recognize the accomplishments of these pioneering individuals. I encourage you to visit the African American Fire Fighting Museum's website for more information on the struggles and accomplishments of African American firefighters, and the links below for multicultural and diversity strategies for the Fire Service.

Links of Interest

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Links of Interest