Black Fire Brigade trains Chicago youth for careers in fire rescue services

CHICAGO (WLS) -- An organization on Chicago's Southwest Side is helping youth by giving them a pathway to careers in fire rescue services.

Marlon Sykes is training with the Black Fire Brigade, and he hopes to become an emergency medical technician, paramedic and firefighter.

"I'm a servant of the people, so I want to do everything in my power to make sure I can give back," Sykes said.

The 90- to 120-day program at the Black Fire Brigade started a year ago, and it already boasts 225 working graduates. Donations cover the $1,000 per student costs.

Quention Curtis founded the organization.

"My thing is, if they can see us, they can be us," Curtis said. "If they believe it, they can make it. If we teach them, they will grow."

Avriel Watson, 19, is pursuing the Black Fire Brigade in hopes of becoming an EMT/paramedic and firefighter.

"My grandfather Marvin Jones, he's a firefighter. He pulled me to the side one day and was like, 'You know what? This is not the end, we can figure this out together. What do you want to do with your life?' and then he said, 'You want to be a nurse, right? How about a nurse on wheels?'" Watson said.

Instructor Vickie Beals said the program changes lives.

"Gives them not a job, but a career, and they can help other kids too," Beals said.

Student Ashley Payton said she's pursuing the training after losing her father six months ago.

"I chose to step out on faith and keep my dad's legacy alive," Payton said.
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