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LA Sentinel: African American Firefighter Museum Traces History From Segregation to Integration

Sydney Breakfield - December 6, 2023 - 0 comments

The LA Sentinel spent a Sunday afternoon touring the AAFFM. Museum volunteers were gracious enough to participate in an interview. Click here to read the article.

The Los Angeles Sentinel is an African American-owned and operated newspaper and media company that places an emphasis on issues concerning the African American community and its readers. For the last 90 years, the Sentinel has empowered a multitude through its unwavering mission of providing the Black community with “a voice speaking for itself.”


Please see below for corrections to the article mentioned above, provided by AAFFM Historian, Brent Burton:

The Fire Pole was an invention that was created by African American Firefighters in Chicago at Engine 21 in the 1870s.  Not in New York City.
Jim Shern was the first Black firefighter in Los Angeles to promote to the rank of Battalion Chief in 1968.  He later became the fire chief in the city of Pasadena CA, making him the second Black Fire Chief west of the Mississippi river.
The James Shern fire academy in Compton CA was named in his honor in the early 1990s by Compton Fire Chief Monroe Smith, the first Black Fire Chief in California.  Chief Shern passed away in 1982.
Paul Orduna was the third Black man to be hired after the LAFD integrated.  He was the first to complete the academy training and his probationary period.  The first 2 Black men to be hired in the LAFD after integration were Tolbert Young and Bradley Garrett.  They were both terminated before they completed their academy training.
Dorsey High school is one of 4 LAUSD High Schools to have a Fire Academy on campus.  Monroe High School in the Valley was the first program.


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