From Tragedy, a Tradition of Giving Back
Sable Flames, Inc. Celebrates 30 Years of Outreach
When fire tore through an apartment on Somerset Circle in the Town of Madison on March 13, 1990, five young children died and a community became divided. Witnesses questioned whether race was a factor in the emergency response and in the tragic outcome. Neighbors who bore witness were distraught that they couldn't do more to save the lives of the children.
The tragedy also left an indelible mark on the African-American members of the Madison Fire Department. In the days that followed, conversations among them began to center around how to improve the department's relationship with the Black community while also improving Black representation in Fire/EMS.
Three years later, Sable Flames, Inc. was born, with a mission to improve and increase the number and status of present and future Black firefighters at the Madison Fire Department. To support their mission, they established the Jones-Robinson Scholarship, named after the five children who died in the Somerset Circle fire: Derrick Robinson (age 9), Kenneth Jones (age 5), Eboni Jones (age 2), Cynthia Jones (age 1), and Mark Jones (age 5 months).
Sable Flames' mission to increase opportunities for underprivileged youth remains the same to this day, but the group has been able to expand their mission to include people of other racial and ethnic identities. Additionally, financial support can be used to pursue other areas of education, not just fire/EMS.
Altogether in its 30-year history, Sable Flames has awarded over 80 scholarships totaling around $50,000 to deserving recipients. At least two of these recipients have gone on to work for the Madison Fire Department as firefighter/EMTs/Paramedics!
The tradition of giving back while investing in the future continues as Sable Flames hosts its 28th Annual Second Alarm Benefit Dance on Saturday, February 18. The event serves as a fundraiser to help finance the Jones-Robinson Scholarship, and 100% of the proceeds will go toward the scholarship fund.
This year's event is sure to be special as Sable Flames honors its founding members, who had the foresight to recognize and fill a need in the community and whose impact is felt to this day.
More information about Sable Flames, the Jones-Robinson Scholarship, and the Second Alarm Benefit Dance is available at sableflames.org.
Firefighter/EMT Will Boone and Firefighter/Paramedic Brandon Jones contributed to this post.