Sacramento’s first Black fire chief, Raymond Charles to be honored

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SACRAMENTO – Retired Raymond “Ray” Charles, the first African American fire chief for the City of Sacramento, will be honored in a dedication ceremony on Friday, Feb. 9, at the Public Safety Center, located at 5770 Freeport Boulevard.

In celebration of Black History Month, the event will run from 10:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.

Charles, who served in the position from 1986 to 1989, will be inducted into the Sacramento Fire Department’s Hall of Honor for his service in the public sector.

Charles graduated from C.K. McClatchy High School and studied fire science at American River College, where he earned an A.A. degree. When he joined the Sacramento Fire Department in 1961, there were only six African Americans on staff.
Before he retired from the department in 1989, the number of Black people in the department increased significantly. He had the support off all his associates and colleagues. Charles had broken down the barriers.

Years after Charles left the position, two more African Americans were appointed to the position of fire chief. Julius “Joe” Cherry was promoted to the position in 2004. He retired in 2006. Ray Jones took the helm in 2008 and served in the office for five years before retiring.