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K.3.2 African American members of Oakland Fire Department engine company No. 22 pose with their engine in front of the fire house at 2230 Magnolia Street, Oakland, California.

African American members of Oakland Fire Department engine company No. 22 pose with their engine in front of the fire house at 2230 Magnolia Street in the West Oakland district of Oakland, California. Pictured are, left to right, George Allen, Price Crawford, Eddie Davis, Milton Pursley and Roy Trece.
circa 1930
Photographic Print
African American members of Oakland Fire Department engine company No. 22 pose with their engine in front of the fire house at 2230 Magnolia Street, Oakland, California, circa 1930. Oakland Fire Department Collection; Oakland Public Library, Oakland History Room, Oakland Fire Department Collection.

Teachers will orally lead a primary source investigation to support student reading, analysis, and interpretation: What do you see? What are the details? Who or what is in the picture? What do you think is happening in this picture? What actions are taking place? Who do you think created the photograph? Why? Is this work you know something about? (Sentence starters are provided with this lesson’s literacy support.)

The description of the photo is “African American members of Oakland Fire Department engine company No. 22 pose with their engine in front of the firehouse at 2230 Magnolia Street in the West Oakland district of Oakland, California. Pictured are, left to right, George Allen, Price Crawford, Eddie Davis, Milton Pursley and Roy Trece.”

The first African American firefighters were hired in 1920 in the City of Oakland. Engine Company 22 was the first African American engine company opened in the city. Integration of the fire department in Oakland did not start until 1952.

Motorized fire trucks started being more common around 1910. Pumper trucks usually had a water tank, a water pump, and a hose. Around 1930, taller ladders began to appear on fire trucks when firefighters needed a way to reach the upper floors of American buildings that were increasing in height. The changes in technology from today can be discussed (the small station building, the size of the pumper vehicle, the bell as opposed to a siren, etc.). The idea of a segregated fire station could also be explored.