Columbia firefighter who broke down racial barriers dies

An old newspaper clipping that featured the late Captain Abram Coles ,Jr.

COLUMBIA (WACH) -- A man who helped to extinguish inequality at the Columbia Fire Department has died.

According to Columbia Fire Chief Aubrey Jenkins retired Captain Abram Coles Jr. died last night.

WACH Fox highlighted a story about Captain Coles back in February for Black History Month.

Cole was one of the original eight African American men who joined the fire department back in 1953.

The team of eight broke down barriers making a way for other African Americans to become firefighters.

Captain Coles was 87 years old.

Thursday afternoon Chief Jenkins said of Coles, "I was saddened by the news today of the passing of Abram Coles, Jr. retired Columbia Fire Department Captain. Captain Coles was the last surviving member of the original eight black Firefighters to join the Columbia Fire Department in 1953.

Captain Coles was good a friend and mentor to me. Much of what I have learned in the fire service was due to his leadership and training."

There is no word yet on when the funeral will take place.