Union, kin of firefighters killed in cargo ship blaze call for new Newark fire department leadership

Relatives of two New Jersey firefighters who died battling a cargo ship fire last summer and the head of a powerful international firefighters’ union called Wednesday for the top leaders of the Newark Fire Department to be replaced, saying they had botched their response to the blaze.

The widow of Newark Fire Capt. Wayne Brooks Jr. and the younger brother of Capt. Augusto Acabou joined with Ed Kelly, the general president of the International Association of Firefighters, to denounce the leadership of former Fire Chief Rufus Jackson, who was promoted to assistant public safety director two months after the July 5, 2023, fire.

Their call came after Jackson testified at a hearing by the U.S. Coast Guard and the National Transportation Safety Board that he did not assume command of firefighting efforts on the Italian-owned Grande Costa D’Avorio, leaving it in the hands of subordinates.

He also said most of his department had gone years without specialized training for fighting fires on board ships, even though the city is home to Port Newark, one of the nation’s busiest seaports, where the fatal blaze took place.

  • January 18, 2024
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