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The Sable Flames will host special ceremony honoring its five founding members at the 28th Annual Second Alarm Scholarship Benefit


The Sable Flames, an organization of the Madison Fire Department’s African-American firefighters, emphasize the importance of hiring, recruitment, promotion and retention of African Americans and other persons of color. This Saturday, Feb. 18, 7-p.m.-midnight, at The Madison Concourse Hotel and Governor’s Club, they will host their big annual fundraiser — the 28th Annual Second Alarm Scholarship Benefit — that raises money for just that.

Jonathan Clinkscale is a Sable Flames Scholarship Benefit board member who is helping to organize the event, which will be in person for the first time since 2020.

Jonathan Clinkscale

“The previous two years, unfortunately, we were not able to host the event due to COVID,” he tells Madison365. “We thought it would be smart to try to hold off because everybody was social distancing and things like that. So we thought it was irresponsible to try to throw a party even though it was for a good cause during that time. 

“We decided to postpone it for a few years and now that things are opening back up we want to try to have a great event to help our cause and try to move forward with what we’re trying to do,” he adds.

What the Sable Flames are trying to do is raise money for scholarships for young people: All proceeds for the 28th Annual Second Alarm Scholarship Benefit will go directly to the Jones-Robinson Scholarship fund to help individuals fulfill their educational goals, 

This year’s event will also include hors d’oeuvres, an open bar (beer and wine), a photo booth, auction/raffle items and more. Sable Flames Chair Brandon Jones has been involved in organizing this event for many years — taking the reigns from past Sable Flames leaders like Doug Johnson, Mahlon Mitchell and Johnny Winston Jr. — and he says that the Sables are excited to be back in person and to see their fellow firefighters and community supporters.

“This year’s event will be special. I’m looking forward to people coming and joining us as we celebrate the first post-pandemic Sable Flames event and pay tribute to our founding members,” Jones tells Madison365. “The night will be full of familiar vibes, with a few new surprises.”

Sable Flames’ founding members included (Top) Bob Hansbro, Hubert McKenzie, Kermit Mosley; (Bottom) Bob Wallace and Cleveland Stevenson
(Photo: City of Madison Fire Department)









There will be a special ceremony honoring the five founding members of the Sable Flames — Bob Hansbro, Hubert McKenzie, Kermit Mosley, Bob Wallace and Cleveland Stevenson — at the event. The Sables will also award a Jones-Robinson Scholarship and will present a community award to Terry Moss, owner of the Atwood Barbershop, for his community service and outreach.

“Every year we try to have a gala to help support a couple of scholarships that we give out to young students graduating high school,” Clinkscale says, adding, “and we also try to honor somebody in the city that is giving back, trying to help out and trying to do things that we think are important in the city.”

While Clinkscale has only been with the Sable Flames for about 6 years, he understands the long history of the organization that was formed more than 30 years ago in the early ’90s.

“We’re a long-standing organization. We’ve had some turnover over the past couple of years and people kind of aging out and then we have some new members coming on and we’re trying to just make sure that we keep up with the same fervor for this event. We want to remind people why we have the Sable Flames and why it’s so imporant when it was first formed in the community and what we stand for,” he says. 

While firefighting has traditionally been seen as a white occupation, the Sable Flames are showing generation after generation that this perception is increasingly not true and have proven to be positive mentors and role models for the young people in the community.

“We do a lot of things in the community and it’s always great when a kid sees a Black firefighter and they are like, ‘Wow! I didn’t even know that this was something that we can do!’ I think that’s very important because from my background, I really didn’t realize that firefighting was something that I could do,” Clinkscale says. “I always thought it was kind of unattainable. But then there were some gentlemen from the Sable Flames who saw me when I was coming back into Madison and told me about what it was like [being a firefighter] and I was like, “Man, this is something I want to be a part of.’

“Being part of this organization is just a great opportunity to give back to our community and reach back and try to pull people up and try to make sure you show people that there are these different paths and different occupations they can pursue,” he adds.

The Sable Flames’ mission is to provide support, knowledge and leadership to members of its organization as well as to all members of the fire service. For the Sables, it’s always been a family feeling.

“I think that it is a very unique profession to have this extended family,” Clinkscale says. “I feel like my family’s from California, but I kind of lean on these guys here in town as my sort of pseudo extended family here in Madison that I can trust, and cant talk to, and can hang out with …. guys that are like-minded and they care about their fellow firefighters and their community.  It’s always good to be around people who have the same values that you do.”

Saturday’s event is an important fundraiser for the Jones-Robinson Scholarship, created to honor the five children that perished in the Sommerset Circle fire of 1990 in Madison.  The children, who were African-American, came from a low-income single-parent household. Following this tragedy, The Sable Flames, Inc. created a scholarship fund in the children’s honor. 

But the 28th Annual Second Alarm Scholarship Benefit is also an evening of dancing, food, music, fun, and recognition.

“It’s a fun event, but also think it’s sort of like a homecoming,” Clinkscale says. “We have guys coming in from out of town. we have people in the city who are just living very busy lives with families and kids and they don’t often have time to converse with friends. So it’s always good to have a special time like this to sit back and hang out with some friends that you enjoy and have some good times and laughs and dance and listen to music and just have fun.

“I feel it’s a good way to get away from the regular mundane thing and also it’s always nice to try to dress up and go out and have a date night with your wife and go have a good time for a great cause.”


To purchase tickets for the event, click here.