On Louisville's South 13th Street stands an old brick building - like so many other brick buildings from a century ago. This one has a large "Eight" carved in stone at the top.
Many may drive right past it without knowing its history, but the building was the very first firehouse in Louisville to house African American firefighters. Early in the city's history, all able-bodied people, including slaves and free Blacks, were the de facto fire control unit. The group was nicknamed The Bucket Brigade.
For decades, Louisville's Black community fought fires with the white members of the Louisville Volunteer Fire Companies, but they were continually denied formal membership.
Attempts were made in the 19th century to include Black firefighters, including an 1881 petition to allow Louisville's colored citizens opportunities to join the fire department and police force. But the motion was never approved.