PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — Edward B. Gaines was the first African Amerian firefighter to work at the Peoria Fire Department. He served the community back in the 1950s.
Current firefighters at the department said Gaines paved the way for other people of color.
Sometimes it’s easier to endure things when you realize people before you have endured much more.Captain James McCoy, Peoria Fire Department
Captain McCoy said he has heard several stories about Gaines’ experience in the workplace.
They actually separated eating utensils. They were titled unpleasant words that were utensils that he would use and they would put them to the side to make sure nobody drank from a cup he drank from and ate from a fork he used.Captain James McCoy, Peoria Fire Department
After all he endured, Gaines still showed up to perform his passion. His successors and admirers said recognition for Gaines is long overdue.
I would like to have the city manager if you would look into what it would take for us to name our knew South Side fire station in honor of firefighter Eddie Gaines.Denise Moore, Peoria City Council
Capt. McCoy said Gaines would not have thought it was possible that one day he would be considered for such an honor.
I think that would be so huge because that would be mind blowing to them that it is a possibility.Captain James McCoy, Peoria Fire Department
When these kids look at someone that looks like them they start to believe that they can achieve those same things.Chief Tony Ardis, Peoria Fire Department
I think it would be such a beautiful tribute for those kids to go by that brand new fire station with solar panels on the top of it and be proud of someone that looks like them that went through so much but hung in there and hung in there and was successful.Denise Moore, Peoria City Council
The Peoria City Council will discuss naming the South
Side fire station after Edward B. Gaines at their next meeting.
Peoria firefighters said the department has come a long way since 1957, but knows there is still a long way to go.
They have high hopes that the council will follow through on this request.