Today’s news:

Black firefighters group helps members’ families

The Vulcan Society, the black firefighters’ fraternal organization, is helping to provide financial assistance to the families of the 12 members who died in the World Trade Center, including the relatives of Firefighter Tarel Coleman, who was remembered in a Rochdale Village ceremony Saturday.

Coleman, 32, a Jamaica native, worked as a letter carrier before joining the Fire Department 1993. He is survived by his children, ages 3 and 13, his fiancé, three brothers and his parents.

The Vulcan Hall Foundation is also raising money for a monument to honor Coleman and the 11 other Vulcan Society members who died Sept. 11.

Donations to the foundation poured in at a Jamaica Business Resource Center fund-raiser Oct. 28, when the Perini Corp. followed the resource center’s example by donating $10,000.

“We were deeply touched by the heroism of so many Vulcan Society members and the firefighters who paid the ultimate sacrifice in service to the people of the City of New York,” said Arthur Blattner, Perini’s senior vice president and project executive of the AirTrain at Jamaica Station project.

“We are extremely honored to join key players in the Jamaica community in showing our heartfelt gratitude for their bravery and dedication,” Blattner said of the firefighters.

Paul Washington, president of the Vulcan Society, thanked Perini Corp. on behalf of the Vulcan Hall Foundation and society members.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of our members, all firefighters and uniform personnel and the victims of the attacks on our city and our country,” Washington said.

The Vulcan Society was established by Wesley Williams, the third black man to join the city Fire Department. Beginning his career in 1919, Williams endured discrimination at its worst, but proved to be a tough firefighter and eventually rose to the title of battalion chief.

In 1940, he convinced the other 39 black men in the department to organize and fight discrimination. Thus, the Vulcan Society was born, and in 1944 the men forced a public hearing before the City Council, which resulted in a ban on racial practices in the Fire Department.

For more information on the society or the foundation, call Bobby Smith at Vulcan Hall, 638-4613 or visit

Reach reporter Betsy Scheinbart by e-mail at or call 229-0300, Ext. 138.

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