Kissimmee Fire Department’s Lt Dwight Johnson will be retiring later in the year, so a number of KFD’s firefighters, along with Kissimmee Fire Chief Jim Walls, worked together, arranging shifts and schedules to create a very special day, a day of honoring, celebrating, reflecting, and learning.
Not only did the firefighters make history with an entirely black firefighting crew at a Kissimmee Fire Department Station, the firefighters, who are relatively young in their careers, were able to listen and learn from experienced fire fighters like retired Milwaukee FD BC James Hardy (Kissimmee’s current fire training coordinator), retired Orange County FR BC Gregory Pines, and Kissimmee’s Fire Chief, Jim Walls, who has served as a firefighter for over 35 years, nearly seven of those years as KFD’s Chief.
“What an amazing experience, and I’m proud of our firefighters for making this happen. To top it all off, without realizing it at the time, yesterday was the 11 year anniversary that we dedicated Station 13, called the Larry E. Brown Memorial Fire Station, in Larry Brown’s honor! That was more than just a coincidence! God is Good,” Kissimmee Fire Department Chief Jim Walls posted on Facebook.
On May 3, 1976, Larry Brown was the first African-American to be hired at the Kissimmee Fire Department and served as a firefighter for 31 years. In 1980 he was promoted to Fire Engineer and also served as President of the Osceola County Chapter of the NAACP. Larry served until he lost his battle with cancer in 2008.