Courage under Fire: The History of African American Firefighters in Los Angeles

Fire Captain Brent Burton
Free    |  Feb 22, 2020  |  2:00PM - 4:00PM
Los Angeles Central Public Library

Courage under Fire: The History of African American Firefighters in Los Angeles



The history of African American firefighters in Los Angeles is a little known piece of Los Angeles history that stretches from the appointment of Sam Haskins, Los Angeles' first black fireman in 1892, to the segregation and then integration of the fire service during the 1950s and the establishment of the Stentorians, an organization of Black firefighters in Los Angeles. During this presentation Los Angeles County Fire Captain Brent Burton will explore how it all came about and how these events have challenged us to look at the fire service today. A Q&A session will follow the presentation. This presentation is co-hosted by the Business & Economics and Science, Technology, & Patents Departments of Central Library.


This free presentation will take place in the Taper Auditorium in Central Library.



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About Brent F. Burton


Brent F. Burton was born and raised in the Crenshaw / Leimert Park district of Los Angeles. In 1985 at the age of 19 he was hired as a firefighter with the Los Angeles County Fire Department. At the age of 21 he became a certified paramedic for the fire department and then at the age of 28, Burton was promoted to the rank of Captain and still serves as a Fire Captain for the Los Angeles County Fire Department. During his 34 year history with the fire service, he has been able to develop many community based projects and mentor countless individuals.


Upon being hired with the L.A. County Fire Department, Burton was introduced to the Stentorians, a group of firefighters who fought to make the fire service a profession of equality and opportunity for all. Burton served a total of 16 years on the Stentorians’ board of directors, serving as President for ten of those years. He is the CEO and founder of the Junior Firefighter Youth Foundation, a non -profit organization that mentors and trains youngsters in the greater Los Angeles County region to become productive citizens and community members. Burton has also served as President of the African American Firefighter Museum for a total of 11 years. Burton has lectured on the history of African Americans in the fire service to various groups and organizations throughout the country. He has the honor of being known as the historian of Los Angeles’ Black fire service professionals. He was tutored and personally guided by the late historian Arnett L. Hartsfield Jr., a pioneering member of the Stentorians organization and leader of the movement to integrate the Los Angeles Fire Department.