African History

The History of the First African American Fire Company in Chicago

The History of the First African American Fire Company in ChicagoThe History of the First African American Fire Company in Chicago
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Engine 21 was Chicago’s first organized paid African American Firefighting Company. Established within the mid-1800’s, the corporate only consisted of just six Black firefighters. But they’re credited with being the primary firefighters to return up with the thought to make and use a fireplace house sliding pole that might allow them to descend from the upper level to the bottom level quickly – a way that was later adopted by every firehouse around the world and remains utilized in modern-day.

The men of Engine 21 were local heroes who operated a hose reel and an external-combustion engine. And together, they put out many fires within the city of Chicago. Consistent with Black Heroes of fireside by Dekalb Walcott, this was an enormous deal for African Americans who had gone from slavery to freedom during this era of reconstruction in America.



Sadly though, in 1874, their firehouse and equipment itself were destroyed during a fire often mentioned because of the “Second Great Chicago Fire.” this hearth was so massive that it exhausted quite 18,000 buildings within the city, and particularly devastated a neighborhood of the town that was referred to as Black Chicago were many African Americans lived. Quite 200 lives were lost.

Sadly, the Engine 21 firehouse was never rebuilt, and therefore the legacy of the city’s first Black firefighters is never talked about today.


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