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Fire Station to be Named for First African American Chief

In 1943 an ambitious African American man joined the All Negro Engine Company #4 of the D.C. Fire Department, Burton W. Johnson.

Johnson, an Army veteran and graduate of Dunbar High School, impressed his bosses with his first job in the department, to make sure that the boots and coat of his Captain were on the fire truck, ready for when the call came. From there, he rose up steadily through the ranks, breaking racial ground with each promotion: Commander of the Investigation Section, Battalion Chief, Fire Marshall, and then ascending to Chief in 1973.

Johnson died in 2007. On Saturday, Johnson's family and city leaders will gather at Engine 4 in the 2500 block of Sherman Ave NW for a ceremony to dedicate and name the station in his honor. The Eastern HS marching band will perform, along with the department's Emerald Society Pipes and Drum Band.

The northbound lanes of Sherman Avenue between Barry Pl NW and Euclid Street NW will be closed from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. for the ceremony.

--Theola Labbé-DeBose

By Theola Labbé-DeBose  |  July 17, 2009; 12:10 PM ET
Categories:  City Life , Crime and Public Safety , Theola Labbé-DeBose  
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