Fire Crew

Japanese American National Museum, Gift of Norio Mitsuoka (91.4.1)

Look closely at this artifact.

  • What is the first thing you notice about it?
  • What do you think it is?
  • Where do you think it’s from?
  • What type of person would have worn it?
Japanese American National Museum, Gift of Norio Mitsuoka (95.54)

A community’s internal security threats are less complex than external community threats. Nonetheless, everyone has a basic need to be safe. The War Relocation Authority created fire departments to ensure standard protections like safety for the Japanese American prisoners. Japanese Americans had opportunities to work in the camps, and some chose to be firefighters.

Watch this video of the fire crew.

  • How did the crew practice fighting fires?
  • What animal appears here?
  • How is this video footage from the World War II period different from videos now?
Courtesy of Densho and the Bigelow Family Collection

This is an article from Information Digest, a publication for War Relocation Authority (WRA) staff. Information Digest contained short news articles about the happenings in all of the WRA camps.

Read this briefing from Information Digest #41 (April 3, 1943).

  • What types of fires did the fire crew in Minidoka fight?
  • Who was the fire crew working with?
Japanese American National Museum, Gift of Norio Mitsuoka (91.19.9)
  • What type of document do you think this could be?
  • What does it tell you about the owner?
  • What do you think is most interesting about this?

 

Japanese American National Museum, Gift of Norio Mitsuoka (91.4.1)

The badge, home movie, and driver’s license belonged to Norio Mitsuoka (1917–2010). Mr. Mitsuoka was incarcerated in Minidoka (Hunt) for the duration of the war. Within the camps, there were many different jobs that Japanese Americans could do, ranging from cooking in the mess halls to serving as firefighters. Mr. Mitsuoka served as the chief of the Fire Department.

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