CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The Charlotte Fire Department will honor Hazel Erwin, the first Black firefighter in the Queen City, at his funeral Monday.
Erwin was born in Charlotte and died last week at the age of 77 after a battle with cancer.
Before joining the Charlotte Fire department, Erwin was a firefighter with the United States Airforce. He fought fires at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base in Goldsboro and later at Cam Ranh Bay in South Vietnam, where he served for a year. He received an honorable discharge on Christmas Day in 1966.
Erwin was hired the Charlotte Fire Department on October 18, 1967 and assigned to Fire Station 1. Erwin was the man responsible for integrating the Charlotte Fire Department in the 1960s, and he made history for being the first Black firefighter in Charlotte.
“We’re not going to put this man out in the boondocks. He will be stationed on an engine company at Fire Station 1 and will have an equal chance in this department,” said Charlotte Fire Chief Jim Black in 1967.
Erwin resigned from Charlotte Fire on March 20, 1974.
He was a man of integrity, a hard-worker, and known for spending time with family and friends, Charlotte Fire says.
Erwin’s family members said that he never wanted special recognition for breaking the color barrier.
“He just wanted to do what’s right,” Erwin’s family said.
He may be gone but never forgotten. The fire department say he will forever be our Black history with the Charlotte Fire Department.
Erwin’s funeral will be held Monday at New Waves of Joy, on East W. T. Harris Boulevard, in Charlotte. Viewing is set from 11 a.m. – noon, and the funeral begins immediately after the viewing.
Following the burial, a repast service will be held at the Clanton Pavilion, on Manchester Drive, in Charlotte.