Chicago's Black Fire Brigade to hold first event in new building

CHICAGO (WLS) -- The Black Fire Brigade building in Ashburn is nearly ready to open, but its mission is bigger than the structure itself.

The organization seeks to remember Chicago's African-American firefighters and paramedics who have died in the line of duty and to help the families of the deceased.

"We, as black firemen, get into the community and take a stand and help these kids," said Black Fire Brigade President and Founder Quention Curtis. "No longer should we stand on the outskirts like it doesn't exist."

Curtis said the group has already taken Torey Ankum, 8, under their wing. Ankum's father, Corey Ankum, was killed when a building collapsed when Torey was 1 year old.

"I feel he is safe here, and they're teaching him things I can never teach him, how to be a man, how to take care of himself," said Ankum's mother, Demeka Wade-Ankum. "So that means a lot."

Ankum has helped the Black Fire Brigade transform their building into a place that will honor the fallen.

"This way, my son will know that his dad didn't die in vain," Wade-Ankum said. "Everybody respects him, it's just an honor."

Diane Patmon, who lost her husband, firefighter Walter Patmon Jr., said the Brigade will both remember the past and help families in the future.

"The fire brigade has always been a place where they help family," Patmon said. "This place will be here to help the family and community."

The Black Fire Brigade will hold its first event, a memorial for Chicago's fallen African-American firefighters and paramedics, Saturday.

"I feel we have a duty and responsibility to get together and go out there and make a serious change - not talk about it, actually do it," Curtis said.
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