First African American Professional Danville Firefighter Retires - WSET.com - ABC13

First African American Professional Danville Firefighter Retires

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Danville, VA -- A Danville firefighter is retiring after 40 years on the job. That's a huge accomplishment, but there is something else that makes Battalion Chief Frank Ferguson extra special.

Ferguson has moved up in the ranks since he started in 1973. But what makes his story especially interesting is that he was the first African American professional firefighter in Danville.

As Ferguson looks back at his 40 years at the Danville Fire Department, there's one thing he says he doesn't see: race. And he's not the only one.

"They pretty much accepted me," said Ferguson.
    
Ferguson broke barriers as the first African American professional firefighter in the city. He tells us at the time there weren't black firefighters in Pittsylvania County, either. Ferguson says people noticed his good attitude and hard work not his skin color.

"When you are humble, you can pretty much make it anywhere," said Ferguson.    
    
Ferguson suspects he couldn't have joined the department the decade before but he came at just the right time.

"I came in the era of change I guess you could say," said Ferguson.
    
He has watched many things change over the years but he says the attitudes haven't.

"A lot of the other firefighters have told me that they appreciate the way I that I came in," said Ferguson.

"He has paved the way because we do have other African Americans here that are leadership positions," said Shelby Irving, Fire Marshal.

Ferguson will officially retire next Wednesday. That's when the fire department plans on recognizing him for his accomplishments.
    
Now that he will have more time on his hands, Ferguson says he plans to focus on his other businesses and keep on working hard.
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