James Britton Sr., 65, city fire lieutenant

May 09, 1999|By Jacques Kelly | Jacques Kelly,SUN STAFF

James Edward Britton Sr., a retired Baltimore Fire Department lieutenant, died Monday of heart failure at his Edmondson Village home. He was 65.

One of the city's first African-American firefighters, he helped found the International Association of Black Professional Fire Fighters in 1968. In 1964, he was given a commendation by Mayor Theodore R. McKeldin for saving two people trapped in a burning building in West Baltimore.

Mr. Britton joined the Fire Department in 1956 and was assigned to Engine 18, a firehouse on North Avenue at Ellamont Street, where he drove a hook-and-ladder truck. When he was promoted to lieutenant, he was transferred to fire headquarters and worked in fire communications. He retired in 1986.

Born in Clover, Va., Mr. Britton attended public schools there before enlisting in the Army. He served in Korea, where he received the Korean Service Medal, the United Nations Service Medal and the National Defense Service Medal.

He then moved to Baltimore and worked for Bethlehem Steel Corp. in Sparrows Point and the old Baltimore Transit Co. as a mechanic.

In retirement, Mr. Britton had a daily routine of walking at local parks with a group of friends known as the Early Morning Walkers. As a hobby, he bought a used 1969 Jaguar XKE and restored the vehicle to pristine condition.

He was an avid flower gardener and enjoyed making trips to his hometown in Halifax County to visit family and members of the Mount Pleasant Baptist Church.

He was a longtime member of the Vulcan Blazers, a black firefighters group.

Services will be held at 11 a.m. tomorrow at the City Temple of Baltimore at Dolphin Street and Eutaw Place.

Mr. Britton is survived by his wife of 43 years, the former Juanita Evans; three sons, James E. Britton Jr., Roderick A. Britton and Michael O. Britton, all of Baltimore; a daughter, LaNette B. Davis of Baltimore; two brothers, Aaron Britton of Clover, and John Wesley Britton of Glen Burnie; and six grandchildren.

Pub Date: 5/09/99

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