GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — The Grand Rapids Fire Department hosted a ceremony to celebrate the renaming of its Franklin Street Fire Station as the Martin Luther King Jr. Fire Station.
City officials say this is the first fire station in the country to carry Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s name.
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“Names are important,” said city manager Mark Washington. “Today’s action by the fire department further recognizes the legacy of Dr. King and how this city actively chooses to honor him. The recent renaming of Franklin Street as Martin Luther King Jr. Street, which coincided with the renaming of Grandville Avenue as Cesar E. Chavez Avenue, continues to reverberate through our community. The renaming of this fire station is an important example of the renaming’s impact on public service. I appreciate the work of the City Commission and Moving Ahead for Remarkable Civil Rights Heroes (MARCH) Committee in making this moment possible.”
According to city officials, the change is in keeping with GRFD’s practice of naming its fire stations for the streets they are located on. The Franklin Street Station was actually the first fire station in Grand Rapids named after the street it's located on.
The city officially renamed Franklin Street to Martin Luther King Jr. Street last month.
Moving Ahead for Remarkable Civil Rights Heroes (M.A.R.C.H.) proposed the streets be renamed after Chávez and MLK Jr. before the Grand Rapids City Commission last year. The commission approved the streets' name changes on Oct. 12, 2021.
“What started out as a simple tradition of naming our fire stations after the streets they are located on has taken on a whole new meaning with this re-dedication of the Martin Luther King Jr. Fire Station,” said GRFD Chief John Lehman. “This building and the work these men and women do each day in our community serve as a testament to Dr. King.”
Representatives from the National Forum for Black Public Administrators, GRFD personnel, residents and city leaders all showed up at Wednesday’s event to celebrate the fire station’s new name.