Chicago Fire Department Lieutenant Quentin Curtis, the founder and president of the Black Fire Brigade, says the Brigade is still accepting sponsors help to raise money to train and mentor Black youth about careers in firefighting.
“It’s time to increase the number of Black firefighters,” Curtis told the Defender. He says this is the reason the brigade purchased a clubhouse in Ashburn. Youth need to be exposed to Black firefighters.
“You see the fire trucks and you don’t see us,” he said.
At the clubhouse, the Black Fire Brigade will train youth and get them ready to take the firefighters exam. Anyone 18 and older who has a high school diploma or GED can qualify.
As part of the training Curtis and the brigade provides, youth are prepared to be EMTs (emergency medical technicians) and to take the written exam and the physical exam to join the fire department. In essence, they help them get ready to succeed and become firefighters.
In addition to serving as a clubhouse to train youth, the building on 84th and Kedzie also serves as a place to remember fallen firefighters. A memorial wall lists the names and showcases the badges of Black firefighters who have died in the line of duty.
The clubhouse, which was once the Gaelic Fire Brigade and owned by an Irish firefighters group, will also serve as a space for firefighters to fellowship, especially since many Black firefighters have experienced discrimination, which has caused the city millions of dollars in settlements.
For more information, visit blackfirebrigade.com