News

Actions

Virginia firefighters celebrate Richmond pioneers

Poster image (16).jpg
Posted at 2:58 PM, Jul 11, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-11 14:58:28-04

RICHMOND, Va. -- On July 1, 1950, Richmond Fire hired its first Black firefighters, forming Engine Company Number 9.

Now, 72 years later, firefighters across Central Virginia are celebrating that historic day.

Firefighters from Richmond, Petersburg and Henrico County came together Sunday afternoon to remember the 10 firefighters who were selected out of 500 applicants to form the company.

Engine Company Number 9 covered the area of Fifth and Duval Street, where the celebration took place.

The year it was formed, two firefighters lost their lives during a rescue attempt.

Poster image (17).jpg

Speakers at Sunday's celebration highlighted the company's history, the memory of those who lost their lives during their service to the company, and how the formation of the company broke barriers in the firefighting industry.

"Had it not been for them, I don't think I would've, even though I was in Henrico County, I don't think I would've ever made Chief if they hadn't achieved the success that they did, 70-some years ago," said retired Henrico County Fire Chief Edwin Smith.

Smith said he there are still more barriers to be broken in the world of firefighting. He said he wants to see more female firefighters in the future.

RELATED: Mural honoring Richmond's first Black firefighters unveiled: 'Think about those who came before us'