First African-American Firefighters in Monroe – 1874

Did you know that Monroe had an all-black Fire Company crew during Reconstruction? They organized in early 1874 and since the Ouachita Fire Company, No 1 had just gotten a new steam fire engine, the new crew were given the old hand engine called Creole, No. 9. They called themselves “the Aetnas” (Aetna Fire Co., No. 2) and they helped the white fire fighters when needed. The group went defunct in the summer of 1877 and the City withdrew support for the company.

In 1880, the African-American community decided to reorganize Aetna and enlisted twenty-five names of men willing to fight fires. Nothing more about Aetna can be found in the local newspapers.

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