The Washington Post

Location of the first all African American fire company to be recognized

Cultural Tourism DC has worked to make sure Washington residents know that history is all around us, not just on the National Mall.

The plaque honoring Fire Engine Company No. 4 with a photograph taken in 1943 by Gordon Parks (Courtesy of Cultural Tourism DC)

On August 23 Cultural Tourism DC will unveil a plaque at 931 R St. N.W., a site of Fire Engine Company No. 4. Engine 4 was organized as the first all-black company about 1918. Its first firehouse was in Southwest. In 1940 Engine 4 was moved to the R Street location, a firehouse that was built in 1885. The D.C. Fire Department was desegregated in 1960 and Engine 4 moved to Sherman Avenue N.W., now named for Burton W. Johnson, the city’s first African American fire chief.

As part of his documentation of Washington life, Gordon Parks did a series of photographs of Engine 4, now housed at the Library of Congress.


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