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On July 1, 1950, the first Black career firefighters were hired by Engine Company No. 9 in Richmond.

On July 11, the Richmond Fire Department is celebrating the 71st anniversary at 5th Street and Duval Street at 1:30 p.m.

Chief Melvin D. Carter will be giving a presentation titled, “Light the Way.”

The men hired were all in the same company as the fire departments were not integrated until 1963.

First up – the members of Engine Company No. 9. On July 1, 1950, RFD (then named the Richmond Fire Bureau) hired the first black career firefighters in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Ten men were selected from 500 applicants: Charles L. Belle, William E. Brown, Douglas P. Evans, Harvey S. Hicks II, Warren W. Kersey, Bernard C. Lewis, Farrar Lucas, Arthur L. Page, Arthur St. C. John, and Linwood M. Wooldridge. Arthur C. St. John was called to return to the military in 1950 and Frederick J. Robinson was hired. When Farrar Lucas resigned in 1951 Oscar L. Blake was hired. In September 1950, the firefighters manned Engine Company No. 9 at the intersection of Fifth and Duval streets in the city’s Northside. There is now a historical marker at that location, where a group of the firefighters and associates returned in 2010 for the 60th anniversary and official recognition by Richmond City Council. **The City of Richmond integrated the fire department on July 6, 1963 and demolished that fire station in 1968.

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