Chicago Fire Lieutenant Mentors Black Youth In Renovated Clubhouse | WBEZ
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Morning Shift

Chicago Fire Lieutenant Mentors Black Youth In Renovated Clubhouse

The Black Fire Brigade’s new clubhouse opened its doors in the Ashburn neighborhood last month to provide mentorship for young, aspiring firefighters and EMTs from all over Chicago. The new space also includes a memorial to firefighters killed in the line of duty.

Quention Curtis, founder of the Black Fire Brigade, joins the Morning Shift to talk about the importance of mentoring young people and future projects.

"Young African American kids need exposure," Curtis says. "They need to see black firefighters in their community." 

For Curtis himself, seeing a black firefighter for the first time was formative. "I'm like eight years old, and I'm like, 'That's what I want to do,'" he says.

In addition to mentoring young people, the clubhouse will also serve as a place for fellowship for black firefighters who've suffered discrimination. According to the Chicago Sun Times, hiring discrimination by the Chicago Fire Department has cost the city almost $92 million in settlements in the last decade.

Curtis advises young firefighters facing on-the-job discrimination to make their complaints known. 

"Follow the practices and procedures that are set forth. Those guidelines are there to protect you," he says.

The Black Fire Brigade has also reached out to the Ashburn neighborhood that surrounds its clubhouse. As part of their Street Rescue program, they're helping neighbors prepare for emergencies. Curtis offers this example:

"If your buddy got shot, and he's got blood oozing out of his arms, what tools do you have to help him? Take a belt and create a tourniquet. [We] teach them things like that."

In the future, the Brigade is planning for more firefighter and EMT classes, and more outreach projects around the city.

GUEST: Quention Curtis, founder of the Black Fire Brigade

LEARN MORE: New Organization That Honors Black Firefighters To Open (Chicago Tribune 6/17/18)

Black Fire Brigade Opens Clubhouse For Peer Support, Youth Mentoring (Chicago Sun-Times 6/23/18)

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