Celebrating Black History Month - Engine 21 Blazing A New Trail

Establishment and Legacy of Engine 21:

  • Engine 21 was established on December 21st, 1872.
  • It was a trailblazing unit of men eager to prove their worth.
  • There was a competitive nature between early firehouses, prompting the need for the newly formed all-black Firehouse to prove its worth.
  • The legacy of Engine 21 is kept alive by retired fire chief Decal Walcut.

Contributions to Firefighting Techniques:

  • Engine 21 played a historic role in the development of firefighting techniques still used today.
  • They were credited with inventing the firehouse sliding pole.
  • The unit set the pace for the fire service nationally, impacting response time and life-saving efforts.

Impact of Engine 21:

  • Engine 21 inspired the continuation of innovation and heroism in the fire service.
  • They played a significant role in shaping the Special Forces of the fire department.
  • Their groundbreaking achievements continue to pay dividends, with generations carrying on the legacy of saving lives.

Challenges Faced by Engine 21:

  • Engine 21 survived slavery, the Civil War, and a hostile firehouse environment.
  • They faced threats to job security and acceptance, with Engine 16 established as the second black fire company in 1943.
  • Despite challenges, Engine 21 had a significant impact on rescues in Chicago.

Recognition and Legacy of Engine 21:

  • The firefighters of Engine 21 are remembered as heroes who survived and thrived amidst adversity.
  • Engine 21's legacy has lasted over 150 years, with Lieutenant Quinon Curtis faithfully continuing the tradition.
  • Their impact on the fire service continues to inspire future generations.

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