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Black Tulsa firefighters reflect on past mentors

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Posted at 10:12 PM, Feb 28, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-01 11:07:30-05

TULSA, Okla.  — The Tulsa Fire Museum is honoring Black Tulsa firefighters and sharing their stories of mentorship and service to the community.

Lt. Victor Grimes and Captain Lorenzer Holmes, who is assistant fire marshal for the Tulsa Fire Dept., shared their mentorship stories Monday night at the Tulsa Fire Museum’s Black History Month living exhibit.

Grimes has spent 22 years with TFD, but he’s been around fire stations a lot longer than that.

“I grew up around a fire station," Grimes said. "So I had what was called about 600 uncles at the time. I didn’t have a dad at home and so I had a lot of mentors in the fire department.”

That mentorship helped him get through school and life.

“In fact, I had to bring my report card to visit the fire station," Grimes said. "I had to keep my grades up and everything. And so they shaped all parts of my life.”

Grimes said he grew up at the fire station Holmes, who is assistant fire marshal for TFD. Holmes, who has been with TFD for 27 years, said it was always his dream to become a firefighter - just like his dad.

“A lot of people really respected him," Holmes said. "He was a person that was very humble. He always had a very good attitude about life in itself.”

Now, the two men are taking what they’ve learned and giving back.

They mentor others, including speaking with students not only about their jobs, but how to find success themselves. They also shared the importance of representing those in their own community.

“I got a chance to work in the neighborhood where I grew up," Grimes said. "And so it was really important to me for the kids in my neighborhood to see someone that looks like them get off a firetruck and be their help.”

The Tulsa Fire Museum also honors the history of Black Tulsa firefighters. While Holmes said they’ve come a long way since the first six black firefighters were hired in 1956, there is still more to be done.

“What I’d like to see from the fire department is to hire more minorities and Black people and watch them go up the ranks," Holmes said. "We have a lot of talented people on the fire department and I’d like to see them in higher ranks.”

Grimes and Holmes shared some of the advice they give others. Find something you love and do it, work hard, and whatever you dream to be one day, it is possible.

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