All posts by John Alston

John Alston has been a member of the Jersey City Fire Department for 30 years. He is a published author and trainer, #fireofficertrust. Since the age of 4, John has wanted to be a Firefighter.

In the Jersey City Fire Department, John commands the First Battalion which covers the middle third of the City. This assignment includes the Holland Tunnel, the PATH Rail System, Ellis Island, Liberty Park, City Hall, 5 fire Stations, 10 Fire Companies, the Safety Officer; Mask Service Unit, the C.B.R.N.E. Fire Boat and the High-rise / Tunnel Unit, the Rescue Company and Squad 4.

Unlocking the Chief…

Being Chief has nothing to do with your title. It has everything to do with your choices—those that bring out your best and the best in people around you. Anyone can be Chief.

Rick Miller is a confidant, author, and speaker who can help you unlock your potential and the potential of everyone in your organization. He has a track record of working with Chiefs of all levels doing just that.

Rick Miller describes how Chief titles are widely used today for people with power, but don’t accurately reflect what it means to be a Real Chief. Rick asserts that Being Chief is about making a choice rather than gaining a title. Learn how to unlock your power and be a Real Chief. www.BEINGCHIEF.com

In the spirit of ideas worth spreading, TEDx is a program of local, self-organized events that bring people together to share a TED-like experience. At a TEDx event, TEDTalks video and live speakers combine to spark deep discussion and connection in a small group. These local, self-organized events are branded TEDx, where x = independently organized TED event. The TED Conference provides general guidance for the TEDx program, but individual TEDx events are self-organized.* (*Subject to certain rules and regulations)

Great message by Rick Miller who gets it.  One of my firefighters sent this link to me and said that it reminded her of me, in some ways.  I am honored and wanted to share this link with others.  So many people have the title Chief and that’s all that they have.

I hope that I embody and represent some of the traits that Rick speaks of.

Enjoy

Ira Rubin Remembered

IraKiltI will miss my friend and Brother, “23”.

Five of us were out of the country last week, training the South African Fire Department – near Durban South Africa, when we got the news of our dear friends passing.  I was in the middle of class when I got the text message.    After calling to confirm the report and hearing that Engine 19 took the job, I immediately thought of them and prayed for their peace.  I know what it’s like to work the job involving  a “loved one” and he was loved.  I knew that our department and others would never be the same.

I was devastated at the news and knowing that we could not be back in time to make his service; our schedule did not allow us time to grieve and the opportunities to mourn our loss were few and far between.  We ended every meal with a toast to  our friend and brother, but that was not enough.  He deserved more and he was bigger than that.

I pinned these few words to share my own memories:

“To my Friend, Brother and Comrade…Fare Thee Well!IraSmiling

Fare thee well to the one who loved us and loved the most noblest of all professions.

Fare thee well to the one that knew us…to the one that knew us, sometimes, better than we knew ourselves… whose humor, character and being “lived for the job”!

Fare thee well for the constant and immeasurable lives he saved through his words and deeds…he knew so much and shared all.

I will miss my friend of 40 years.  While growing up on Orient Avenue, our families met.  His family owned a local business.  He went to school with my sister Susan.  When it was time for my oldest son, John, to get his first haircut.  It was Uncle Ira that held him  and consoled him in the barber’s chair, because Cheryl couldn’t watch and of course I had to hold the camera.  When my son Malcolm came on the job, it was Uncle Ira who, proudly”, gave him his first badge, matching wallet and keychain.  We were friends, but it wasn’t until I joined the JCFD, when I “Got On The Job” that we became brothers.

It was then the team of “Blackman & Rubin” was formed.  For a short time I was the P.I.O. and caring for my ailing Mother-in-Law.  I would be concerned that I might be delayed in my responses to jobs, from time to time.  I shared that with my Brother Ira.  Without my asking, he gave me an extra radio, scanner for her house and put the Gong Club Frequency on them for me to monitor jobs.  He would give me a ” heads up” en route on the current jobs and incidents.  He knew “who was who in the zoo…”  He advised me on who I could trust and whom I should just leave alone.

He elevated the job and always had its best interests at heart.   He had the heart of a Fire Fighter.  He was a wealth of information.  He just knew things and we challenged each other constantly. (Him winning all the time.)  He saved so many JCFD “Jobs”  with the kindest reminders.

There will never be another “FJ” (Those that know the meaning of those initials knew him best).

Fare thee well…my mustachioed, cigar smoking, FD loving, kilted Bagpipe playing, US Marine (thank you for your service), Rescue 1 Chauffeuring (Oops- another Ira Rubin story), Jeopardy Champion, Fire Historian, Quartermaster, Plant Manager, Fire Buff Extraordinaire, Dispatcher of the highest order, Scholar, Brother, Friend and Comrade…

“23”,  you are already missed.  “23”, our hearts ache for your passing, yet our lives were made better for our knowing you.

Fare thee well “23”….See you on the other side!  

AAAhhhfirmative!

Your Brother from Another Mother…       (as you last said to me)…

CHIEF of the First Battalion, arriving on the scene, with the rest of the companies!”


IraSelling

FR. James Pagnotta wrote: The Jersey City Fire Department lost its “soul mate” with the Thursday morning untimely passing of Ira Rubin!

Ira was a fire buff extraordinaire, a main stay of the Jersey City Gong Club, bag piper “without portfolio,” an avid and accurate Fire Department Historian, and a friend to all.

Serving as Jersey City Fire Chaplain for the past 39 years, it was my honor and pleasure to both know and work with Ira. He was a “matzoh ball” in kilt who played more fire/police funerals in Catholic churches after the horrific 9/11 attack than people could ever imagine. An enthusiastic member of the Archdiocesan St. Florian mass committee, he traveled near and far to honor those who served and made the “supreme sacrifice”

As the Fire Department historian he forgot more fire history than some people could even imagine. He was a pleasure to work with when we established, with the assistance of the Fire Officers and Firefighters Unions, the “Wall of Honor and Eternal Flame of Bravery” at Jersey City’s Fire headquarters. He spent untold hours researching library and cemetery records to ensure all accuracy was present and proper honor was given to those who served and gave their lives.

Ira could light up one of his big cigars and entertain for hours with story after story of fires and fire fighters never missing a flame or act of bravery.

A devoted son, who attended an ailing mother with tender loving care and friend anyone could turn to for help with facts, badges, shields or needs.

Ira’s flame of life has now expired and but fire of his spirit shall live as long as the JCFD continues to serve this community.

Let us give thanks that Ira piped his tunes and tales, kept the records straight and made known the good and heroics deeds of so many.

Mazel tov Ira for a life well lived but oh too short!

REV. JAMES V. PAGNOTTA
CHAPLAIN JERSEY CITY FIRE DEPARTMENT
PASTOR, ST. JOSEPH CATHOLIC CHURCH

Link to news article:  Ira Rubin Remembered

The Fire Smoke Coalition

smokecoal

I joined the Fire Smoke Coalition years ago.  It was not until I got their information at FDIC (www.fdic.com) and reviewed it that I found a wealth of resources that can change firefighters lives.

The mission of the Fire Smoke Coalition is to focus the required attention and resources on the deadly and life-long consequences of breathing  fire smoke by teaching firefighters and first responders how to Prevent, Protect, Detect, Diagnose, and appropriately Treat the exposure if it occurs.  The Coalition is comprised of firefighters and the medical community – all who embrace the challenge of teaching firefighters how to stay alive – and prevent the disease, illness and death associated with today’s deadly fire smoke.

This post links you to an interview I had with the organizations Executive Director, Shawn Longerich.  Her candor and passion for firefighter safety permeates this discussion.

Please visit: www.firesmoke.org  for further information and resources.  Support the cause that is focused on firefighter safety and health.  We can do better!

Shawn Longerich, Executive Director

shawn@firesmoke.org
Fire Smoke Coalition
323 North Delaware Street
Indianapolis, IN 46204
www.FireSmoke.org

Happy 65th Anniversary Gong Club

GongClub

2015 OFFICERS:
Chief Conni Spellman
Deputy Chief Pat Spellman
Treasurer Paul Schaetzle
Secretary Bob Scollan

gongclub@comcast.net

The Gong Club is a non-profit canteen unit that provides rehab to Jersey City firefighters and those in the surrounding towns of Hudson County.  The Gong Club has also been an integral part of providing refreshment and rehabilitation to the community and Emergency Management, during a variety of events.  Their selfless acts of service and dedication are greatly appreciated by our us.

Gong Club Members
Gong Club Members

Their members are all volunteers.  They are on-call 24 hours a day and year-round.

The Gong Club responds to fires in Jersey City which are 2nd alarms or larger.

They are also their lend a hand during firefighters funerals and memorial services.

Scan_Pic0007
Member of Rescue One

They also respond to larger fires throughout Hudson County.

DSC04379
JCFD Members “Rehabbing” at the Gong Wago. There are mutual aid agreements with canteen clubs in surrounding counties as well. They have responded to other towns when called.

Throughout the year they also assist at several community events, such as walk-a-thons and runs, including the March of Dimes, Juvenile Diabetes and the Carlos Negron Run. The past 2 years they have served riders during the Police Unity Tour.

They also respond when called out by the JCPD.

During this year’s recognition of their 65 years of service, Deputy Director of the United States Fire Administration, Dr. (Chief) Denis Onieal read and presented a Proclamation from the FEMA, recognizing the many contributions of the Jersey City Gong Club.  There was also a presentation for three members, recognizing them for 25 years of continuous service to the club and fire service.

The Gong Club is a member of the International Fire Buff Association (IFBA) and and the Fire Buff Association of New Jersey.

They have been in the same address, on Bay Street, for over 50 years, but have been around for 65 years! 

GongClubPrez

Congratulations Gong Club Chief Connie Spellman and members.

We celebrate and honor our friends in the Jersey City Gong Club!

Are You Still Thinking From The Jumpseat?

Some people say that the toughest change or transition for them is from firefighter to officer; it would be the same in any profession or industry, when you move from worker to supervisor. Just as in the private sector the move and transition is task, role and responsibility specific.  In some cases it is even physical…

In most professions, a promotion is seen as a reward.  In our industry it is more function specific.

You may go from driver to the other front seat with no controls; driving in a vehicle all alone or be driven by an aide. I have ridden in all of them.  Each has its place  and each has its own unique perspective.

In my profession people say that the toughest change or transition for them is from firefighter to officer

They may be right if:

 – You weren’t serious about the job or your responsibilities, to begin with.

– You didn’t make the investment in yourself to study and become proficient

– You don’t like people (the ones you serve or the ones you serve with)

– You are one of the guys/gals and can’t distinguish between leader / follower

– You lack the courage to change yourself and circumstances when needed.

I don’t want you to think that I am bashing anyone or being cruel. I’m not.  Some Officers are honest and tell me that they went for the higher rank, solely, for the higher pay.  (To me, that’s wrong… although not criminal…and now I’m off the soap box)

There are other reasons for this.  I have had the pleasure to work with and speak to hundreds of fire officers in the last thirty years.  Each of them brings something unique to the office and many bring the same thing.  I am finding more and more that they are tool and task focused, as opposed to the overall operation or mission.

When you make the change, there must also be a transition.

You must understand your role and responsibility.

So, if you are a person aspiring to be an officer or manager:

  • Learn your job well, first
  • Study and train for the position you seek
  • Network with incumbents who have been there, done that and have been successful
  • Select and establish rapport with a mentor or role-model
  • Focus your efforts with a positive attitude

If you are already that person and not sure:

  • Perform a self-audit:“Ask yourself, am I doing all that I can?”
  • Study and train to maintain your optimal level of proficiency and knowledge

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Watch “The National Anthem” on YouTube

MayDay Audio: JCFD MayDay

Great fire ground Audio of a structure fire in Jersey City, NJ.

A mayday was transmitted during this incident and was quickly handled. Four firefighter were injured during the incident, we were not able to obtain the status of those firefighters. We will try to keep you up dated on their condition, but until then we are hoping for a speedy recovery.

UPDATE: Retired PG County Deputy Carla Blue Killed

Funeral Services Set for Retired Deputy Fire Chief Carla D. Blue

The Prince George’s County Fire Department has released funeral service information for Carla D. Blue, a retired deputy chief killed in a weekend car accident.

Viewing will be held at 10 a.m. Tuesday, Sept. 29, at Mount Ennon Baptist Church, 9832 Piscataway Road in Clinton.

The funeral service will follow the viewing at 11 a.m. Tuesday.

Burial immediately following the service will be at Cheltenham Veterans Cemetery.

http://wtop.com/prince-georges-county/2015/09/retired-pgfd-deputy-fire-chief-killed-in-early-morning-crash-saturday/

It is with great sadness that I share the news of the passing of Retired Prince Georges County Deputy Fire Chief Carla Blue. I met Chief Blue through the Carl Holmes Executive Development Institute; first as a student and then as an instructor.

I was always impressed with her professionalism and passion for people. She had a great caring spirit. She reminded us, firefighters, to remember to be human. We will miss her tremendously. Our thoughts and prayers are with her family, friends an d co-workers.

9/11 Memorial Speech Oceana NAS 2014

Fire Service Cancer Epidemic

Great job Fire Engineering and especially PJ Norwood.  Stay safe!

A Place for Fire Officers and those who aspire to be…

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