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Cincinnati's First African American Firefighter Honored By Department

herbert bane
Bill Rinehart

Cincinnati's first African American firefighter died at his home in the Philippines earlier this year. Herbert Bane's passing didn't go unnoticed here.

Cincinnati firefighters held a memorial Monday morning at the Church of the Resurrection in Bond Hill. Cincinnati African American Firefighters Association President William West says Bane was a trailblazer. 

"When someone becomes a firefighter, I believe, you take that oath to save all lives, not just Caucasians, not just African Americans, but human beings," he said during the service. "Herbert Bane was hired in 1955, and we all know, those were very trying times."

After serving with the Marine Corps and fighting in Korea, Bane joined Cincinnati's fire department. Firefighter and Local 48 Vice President Dave Johnson says Bane was also the first black man to join the union. He also served with the U.S. State Department and the United Nations. 

"We celebrate him today for all the barriers that were broken then and that continue to be broken across this nation," Johnson said. "All these things are possible because brother Bane had a desire to serve." 

West says today, the city employs 233 African Americans, including a chief and 26 lieutenants. 

Bane died in February at the age of 86. He was buried in the Philippines where he retired.