For the past 30 years Kwame Cooper has served as a member Los Angeles City Fire Department. During this time he has also volunteered thousands of hours to community-based organizations throughout the city. The philosophy that inspires his involvement is a rooted belief that all people deserve to have access to information and institutions that will help them live better—and safer—lives. Over the years this work has taken him into diverse communities from Watts to the Caribbean’s, Central America, Carcavelos, Portugal, South Africa, Ethiopia and Argentina. He has designed fire safety curriculum, instructed firefighters in leadership and spoken in various diverse settings promoting fire safety and healthy relationships between many sectors of society.
In 1992 Kwame was instrumental in designing the Los Angeles City Fire Department’s School Outreach Program, which promotes fire prevention and safety for children. This program has reached more than 350,000 youth attending elementary school. It also served as the inspiration for the National Fire Protection Association’s “Safe Cities” and “Champion” programs, which currently operate across the country. For the past seven years, he has served as the Fire Safety Education Director for the International Association of Black Professional Firefighters and is a consultant to the NFPA’s Center for High Risk Outreach. In these roles he helps provide direction to fire departments nationwide and abroad in their efforts to offer effective service to all communities. As an instructor with the National Fire Academy, Kwame has developed and taught new grassroots, innovative curriculum to firefighters and members of the community across the country.
Since 1992 he has served as an instructor at the Carl Holmes Executive Development Institute at Clark Atlanta University, teaching future Fire Captains and Chief Officers from around the country courses in leadership, effective management and community-based fire stations.
As a Company Officer assigned to Fire Station 68 in South Los Angeles, Kwame guided the implementation of five community-based fire protection programs. The documentary “Dreams on Fire” profiled the relationship between a boy from the neighborhood and members of Fire Station 68. This KCET program received a Golden Mike and an
Emmy award for best documentary regarding social issues in Southern California.
In 1996 Fire Station 68 earned national acclaim when it was selected as one of 11 “Promising Practices” by President Clinton’s Race Initiative. As a result, Kwame
was invited to attend President Clinton’s town hall meeting on race relations. He also hosted visiting members of Clinton’s advisory panel on race relations and participated with other community members in a dialogue on race.