Assistant Phoenix fire chief a mentor, educator for Black firefighters

Feb 20, 2023, 9:00 AM
Tim Gammage, right (Twitter Photo/Phoenix fire)...
Tim Gammage, right (Twitter Photo/Phoenix fire)
(Twitter Photo/Phoenix fire)

PHOENIX — For as long as Tim Gammage has been a firefighter, he’s also been a dedicated mentor, bringing other Black firefighters into the field.

Gammage, an assistant chief with the Phoenix Fire Department, believes there is a high level importance in mentorship and Black history.

He says Black history has “a lot of times been forgotten,” both in spoken conversations and written about in educational institutions.

Because of this, Gammage is committed to doing what he can to spread the importance of Black history and be a mentor himself, especially during February’s Black History Month.

“It’s very important for folks to see somebody that looks like them, talks like them, achieve the things in society we all want to achieve,” Gammage said on KTAR News’ Valley Watch podcast.

Gammage dates his mentorship to 2000, when he became the president of the United Black Fire Fighters of Arizona.

The UBFF, also known as the J. W. Robinson Society, is committed to supporting Black professionals seeking or pursuing careers in firefighting.

At that point, Gammage was nine years into his career as a firefighter.

“Like they say, it’s always good to have a mentor and mentor someone else,” Gammage said.

“It just helps folks get to where they want to go a little bit quicker by you being able to steer them through the roadblocks they’re going to have to go through.”

The UBFF has mentored people who wanted to become engineers, captains and even chief officers after Gammage himself became a chief officer.

Besides being assistant fire chief and UBFF president, Gammage serves as a co-chair of the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) committee at Phoenix Fire.

“It’s an honor for me to be selected to head up that group,” Gammage said. “I’m just so blessed and proud to be a part of an organization that holds this as a value and really puts action behind their words.”

According to Gammage, the DEI committee has developed “work groups,” to put it first in the department’s values.

The committee evaluates Phoenix Fire’s policies, procedures and promotional processes in order to “make sure it’s fair and equitable for everyone.”

Gammage is proud of the groups’ success, calling them “well attended,” with almost 75 people per meeting.

“We’re talking about a lot of hard issues, but it’s the right thing to do,” Gammage said. “Probably the biggest accomplishment right now is we’ve got everybody in the room, and we’re talking together.”

Above all, Gammage stressed how attainable a career in firefighting is for Black professionals.

To Gammage, it’s about hard work and dedication.

“My dad had a saying that I grew up on – he said, ‘Son, if you’ve got quit in you, they’re going to find it.’ Life is tough, but if you don’t give up on those things that you hold near and dear, you can achieve those things.”

KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Ali Pardi contributed to this report.

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Assistant Phoenix fire chief a mentor, educator for Black firefighters