Fire Service

On August 8, 1988, I began my career as a firefighter.  Shorty, thereafter I joined the Cincinnati African American Firefighter Association or CAFA.  It is due to CAFA’s fight, for equity, why I and other African-Americans were given the opportunity to become firefighters.  Some of the early warriors for equity include, Herbert Bane – the first Black Cincinnati Firefighter, Bennie Sherpard, Ben Jordan, President Emeritus Edward Turner, Howard Reed, and the first African-American Fire Chief Robert Wright. When I came to the fire department, I only knew the core of the city, which was predominantly African-American neighborhoods.   But, as I firefighter I worked in every neighborhood and would come to learn the entire city. From the East and West Ends, from California to Sayler Park, from the Central Business District to Price Hill, West Wood, Mt Airy, College Hill, Winton Hill, Hartwell, Roselawn, Kennedy Height, Madisonville, Linwood, Mt. Washington and every neighborhood in between.  What was most notable in my early career was how racially segregated are our neighborhoods.  You were either an east sider, or a west sider, or you lived in the core. As I promoted from firefighter to Lieutenant to Captain and ultimately my ceiling as a District Chief, I came to realize the challenges and issues that we faced as a department and as a city.  I realized that fires more often occurred in African-American and underserved communities.   Also, it became evident that Blacks and the underserved more frequently use public safety health services.  My career as a firefighter was aligned with my time as a soldier, and so I sought to address these challenges and issues guided by the army’s core values to do what is right, what is just, and what is fair.