SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – The Springfield Fire Department, city officials, and the community will come together Friday to remember the life of Springfield’s first African American firefighter Leonard Corbin.

Mayor Domenic Sarno, Fire Commissioner B.J. Calvi, and members of the Corbin family will hold a ceremonial bell tolling and wreath-placing ceremony at the Leonard A. Corbin Memorial at 10:30 a.m. The annual ceremony is typically held in February as part of the city’s celebration of Black History month but was postponed this year at request from the family.

Corbin graduated from Springfield Trade High School and enlisted in the U.S. Air Force. He became the department’s first black firefighter in 1969 and served for 32 years.

“I just wanted to be the best firefighter I could be.” 

Monument at Mason Square Fire Station

Mayor Sarno states, “I am proud to join with Commissioner BJ Calvi on his initiative to honor ‘Lenny’ with the ceremonial bell tolling and wreath-placing ceremony. I knew Lenny well. He was a great and humble gentleman and firefighter. He was a trailblazer – the Jackie Robinson of our Springfield Fire Department. May God rest his soul and may his brave legacy of professionalism live on forever.”

“Lenny Corbin was a true professional and exemplary firefighter.  I thought it was important to honor Lenny Corbin, who was the city’s first African-American firefighter, and opened the door for so many others to follow after him,” said Commissioner Calvi.  “The traditional Springfield Fire Department alarm code for an engine company returning home to the station was 4 bells followed by the number of the engine company returning to quarters.  At the ceremony we will sound the code 4-8 for engine company number 8 from the Mason Square Fire Station, Leonard’s first station assignment to call home.”