In the spring of 1979 a car carrying several men from Milwaukee headed for the city of Chicago. In that car rode Isaac Hatton, Sherman Moore, Michael Webster and Larry Greenhill. They were firefighters from Milwaukee’s city and county fire departments. For the past several years, Milwaukee had been under court order to increase African-American and minority employment in the fire department. But these men were not satisfied with just attaining a rightful place in their respective departments. They knew the real battle would be in changing the very character of the fire department. This was a battle in which they had to be properly armed. They found that armament in the City of Chicago, at the “International Association of Black Professional Firefighters North Central Region’s” spring conference. African-American firefighters from across the Midwest were in attendance. They met positive men and women who, like themselves, found tremendous rewards in being firefighters, but also found inequality in the fire service.
The camaraderie shown to them that weekend steeled them for the course ahead, and they returned to Milwaukee and formed the “Milwaukee County Association of Black Professional Firefighters” (now known as the “Milwaukee Brotherhood of Firefighters”). Determined to address the issues that affected not only our fellow brothers and sisters in the fire service. But to also improve the relationship and service of the fire department to the African-American Community.
Decades later the MBFF still serves as the primary agency in the City of Milwaukee that advocates and supports diversity initiatives for the Milwaukee Fire Department.