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Museum preserves history of Black firefighters

Juliana D. Norwood | 8/8/2012, 5 p.m.

Since Dec. 13, 1997, the mission of the African American Firefighter Museum (AAFFM) has been to collect, conserve and share the heritage of pioneering African Americans in the fire service.

Today, the African American Firefighter Museum stands as the first and, so far, the only free-standing African American Firefighter Museum in the United States. The first floor contains vintage fire apparatus, stories and pictures of pioneering Los Angeles firefighters. The museum gallery is filled with pictures, artifacts and other memorabilia of Black firefighters, captains, chief officers and historical women fire service professionals from around the country. There is a memorial tribute to the firefighters who perished during the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center in New York City.

For 12 years, the organization has raised funds to support the museum, located at 1401 Central Ave. in Los Angeles, and its various community service programs through its various fundraiser events. This year, the museum will host the 2012 Back to School Backpack Giveaway benefiting the Junior Firefighter Cadet Program.

For the past nine years the organization has worked to mentor at-risk youth through the Junior Fire Cadet Program, which has been successful in introducing youth to the fire department as a career option, along with helping to instill character, discipline, work ethic, physical fitness, and respect for authority and themselves.

The fundraiser will be held at the museum on Sunday, Aug. 19, from noon to 4 p.m. The museum will also be open for tours that day as well as giving school supplies to the youth. Junior Firefighter Cadet Program information will also be available.

The African American Firefighter Museum is a vital link to the community and depends on community support. The museum is 100 percent volunteer- and donation-driven.

"Your participation and contribution will make a great difference in achieving our goals, and we ask that you please consider giving your support. Not only will you be helping to support our critical mission, you will also be reaching an affluent group of potential consumers," said Capt. Brent Burton, president of the African American Firefighter Museum and Junior Firefighters Youth Foundation.

"We have several levels of sponsorship available. In appreciation, individuals or business names will be prominently acknowledged at the event, on all printed materials and on our website depending upon the level of sponsorship. The viability of AAFFM and its programs depends upon your support and commitment. Thank you for your interest and commitment to our organization."

The African American Firefighter Museum is asking for a $25 donation from individuals, $500 from small businesses, $1,000 for reception sponsors, and $2,500 for official sponsors. To make donations, contact Sherrie Burrell at (310) 619-5497 or Capt. Burton at (323) 855-0812.

For more information on the African American Firefighter Museum (AAFFM), visit the organization's website at www.aaffmuseum.org.