The Philadelphia Fire Department (PFD) is observing Black History Month this year by shining a spotlight on Club Valiants, the fraternal organization for Black PFD members that’s celebrating its 60th anniversary.

PFD Lt. Samuel Singleton started Club Valiants in 1962 to provide social support for Black firefighters. Members later widened the group’s mission to include mentoring young recruits, promoting fire prevention, and other forms of community outreach. 

Today, Valiants has over 400 active members who serve as PFD firefighters, paramedics and EMTs. 

Our members hold a wide range of positions throughout thFire Department, and our motto is ‘Good conduct and courage lead to honor,’” said Valiants President Lisa Forrest, who is the first Black woman to hold that position in the organization.

The Valiants joined with similar groups from fire departments in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut to create the International Association of Black Professional Fire Fighters (IABPFF) in 1970. 

Forrest, who is also the first Black woman to become a Battalion Chief in the PFD, said Valiants believe in the IABPFF motto: “All I am I owe, I live eternally in the red.” She added that they also have committed themselves to the slogan of the U.S. Fire Administration: “Fire is everyone’s fight

In that spirit, the Valiants recently embarked on a 12-day campaign to install smoke alarms across the city in memory of the 12 family members who perished in a Jan. 5 rowhouse fire in the Fairmount neighborhood. This off-duty initiative was in addition to the smoke alarms PFD members install every week while on duty.

“The residents were really grateful and glad to see us out in the community,” said Valiants member Capt. Derek Bowmer, who went out with the group on MLK Day. “It’s not only about responding to emergencies, it’s about helping to prevent emergencies.” 

Club Valiants plans to celebrate its anniversary on Founder’s Day: July 17, 2022.