As we conclude Black History Month this year, we shine a spotlight on a team member who has made impactful contributions to the Department’s success through his many accomplishments and achievements: Fire Captain Brent Burton.
With 36 years of service and plans to retire soon, Fire Captain Brent Burton has spent his career advocating for diversity, equity, and inclusion. “I think we have come a long way in many respects, but we still have a long way to go,” said Captain Burton. “I hope that we learn to embrace and celebrate our differences rather than push back against them and take the time to really understand our history and how we have arrived to where we are today.”
Helping people is what motivated Captain Burton to pursue a lifelong career in the fire service. He was inspired by those who came before him. “I did my best to continue the work that others have envisioned,” said Captain Burton. “I stand on the shoulders of giants! From the first two Black firefighters in the 1950s (James L. Garcia, Jr. and Van Davis) to the first Black man to promote here (Hershel Clady) and the first Black paramedic here (Ed McFaul). These men were the true trailblazers!”
To do his part in promoting diversity and inclusion at the Department, Captain Burton managed the Recruitment Unit after it had been disbanded. “As the Recruitment Unit captain, we were able to create programs, such as the first Girls’ Fire Camp in Southern California, the Women’s Fire Prep Academy, the Public Safety Prep Program, and the Future Fire Program for high school students.”
Off the job, Captain Burton has served as president of the L.A. County Stentorians and was one of the founding members of the African American Firefighter Museum in 1997.
As to what the future holds, Captain Burton plans to continue doing what he can to recruit people from all walks of life into the fire service: “It’s been a pretty good ride, but now it’s time to move on and do the work that is needed – mentoring the next generation.”