The Cambridge Fire Department has a history that is as rich in its designations and accreditations, as it is with its diversity. The first African American Fire Chief was in the Cambridge Fire Department, Chief Patrick Raymond of Pleasant Street.
He and his brother hailed from Pennsylvania, however once their naval careers ended, they both came to Boston. Patrick H. Raymond became a firefighter and eventually worked his way up to Fire Chief. Not only was he the first African American Fire Chief, but he fought hard for the firefighters in his department to be paid, making them career Firefighters and no longer volunteer. Since that time, the Cambridge Fire Department is still honoring him by naming Marine 1 after Chief Raymond.
The Cambridge Fire Department has gone through many changes since Chief Raymond. Including the prestigious designation of being one of the only Class 1 Fire Departments around! While there have been many advancements, there are always opportunities to improve and ensure diversity, inclusion, and representation within all departments.
In the late 1990’s members of the Cambridge Fire Department sought to create a local chapter of the International Association of Black Professional Firefighters (IABPFF). At that time, the Firefighters named the local chapter the Phoenix Society. The group was created to support the same efforts of diversity, equity, inclusion, and representation. However over time, it slowly disbanded.
In 2020 there was talk of re-invigorating the Phoenix Society. After researching, connecting, and learning from the International Association of Black Professional Firefighters (IABPFF), a small group decided to form a new local chapter called the Paragon Society.
Our goal is to have our collective voice be heard. To ensure that our community has the same opportunities as those who come to our city. We have all seen the numbers of applications from long time residents of Cambridge (and surrounding areas) diminish. We believe there are many points that can be attributed to this low application numbers, including: Confusion about the Civil Service process; lack of outreach and mentoring programs; and not enough modeling of firefighters who "look like me;" to name a few.
We have taken the foundational blocks from the Phoenix Society and infused it with our commitment to our community. The end result is the Paragon Society, who, through community outreach, mentoring and modeling, and educational programs - we will uncover the path to this amazing career and increase the interest, application, and hiring of our underrepresented (minority) community members.
We believe "Unity Ensures Longevity."