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Winston Minor, Atlanta’s Second Black Fire Chief, Transitions at Age 72

Winston L. Minor
January 22, 1948 – November 20, 2020

In 1973, six months after finishing at Atlanta’s Booker T. Washington High school and studying at Florida A&M University, Winston Minor returned to his native soil and was confronted by a former BTW classmate Richard Tillman about applying for a job with the Atlanta Fire Department. “My response was, I don’t want to be no fireman,” he reportedly said. But Tillman kept prodding. Minor gave in, took and passed the application process and became a firefighter on June 5, 1973. He would later confide to a friend, “I like to tell the story of how I came to work for the Atlanta Fire Department because it was a BTW connection directly to our class. Makes you wonder how God puts people in your life at the right time.”

At 7:31am, November 5, the daily Atlanta Fire activity report issued the following announcement: “Retired Department Chief Winston Minor has passed. Please keep Mrs. Minor and her family in your thoughts and prayers. Final arrangements are incomplete at this time, update as more information is made available.” As of Atlanta Inquirer press deadline time, there was no update on the activity report. Family members the newspaper attempted to contact could not be reached as well. Willie A. Watkins Funeral Home of Atlanta, Georgia is handling the final arrangements.

Minor was Atlanta’s second Black fire chief following William Hamer, named the city’s first in 1985 following a lawsuit challenging the city’s promotion exam which all Black firefighters failed.

Minor’s first duty station was at Firehouse Number 7 on West Whitehall Street in West End. He was later promoted to Captain (thanks to the lawsuit) in 1980 and held positions at the Howell Mill Road station and the fire department training center. In 1987, he was named an assistant fire chief. Ten years after Hamer pioneered the job, Minor was named fire chief in 1995 by then Mayor Bill Campbell. Minor served as chief for seven and one-half years before retiring in May of 2003. He would later tell the national publication Firehouse Magazine, “I think it has been a good haul.”

He wasn’t finished with the business, however. Later, he created a consulting firm, counseling department largely in the south and encouraged former East Point Fire Chief Rosemary Cloud to persue the position. East Point’s fire station was later named for the Black female pioneer in 2018

Minor’s list of affiliations is numerous. He was a member of the Atlanta NAACP, International Association of Black Professional Firefighters, International Association of Fire Chiefs, Georgia firefighters Standards Training Council, the National Forum of Black Public Officials and local firefighter advocacy group Brothers and Sisters combined. Married to the former Angela McIver and the father of two, he was also a member and Deacon of southeast Atlanta’s Israel Baptist Church and was parliamentarian of the Cascade Park Homeowners association.

Notably, Minor is listed as a “noteworthy city fire chief” by the 122-year-old publication “Marquis Who’s Who in America.”

Last updated on November 23, 2020

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