Tag Archives: FDNY

Retired FDNY Capt. Vincent Julius Dies

The first time I met Captain Vincent Julius of the FDNY and Vulcan Society of New York was in Buffalo New York in 1986.
Vjulius
 I had only been a firefighter for 16 months. He made an instant impression on me; through his care for detail and organization; his love of the fire service; his love for our culture; and his unapologetic demeanor.
He was great friends with another of my mentors Fire Fighter Eddie Dawson of the Jersey city Fire Department. The two of them would pal around all of the time, on Vinnie’s boat.  Capt. Julius sailed on his boat the Red Martha to many of our conferences on the East Coast. He was a well educated man. A man of discipline and substance. He and I would quote the poem Invictus back and forth to each other and the Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner.
INVICTUS…

Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find, me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll.
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.

William Ernest Henley
He was a great friend and taught me much about our organization. He was steadfast to the end and he will be sorely missed.  
I will remember my friend every time I see the sun’s reflection on the water or a sailboat sway in the sunset.
Fair thee well, Fair thee well, fair thee well….

THE FOLLOWING IS FROM THE ARTICLE WRITTEN IN THE NEW YORK DAILY NEWS, BY GINGER OTIS ADAMS…
Retired FDNY Captain Vincent W. Julius, one of the department’s most high-profile African-American firefighters during the city’s “War Years,” died Sunday after a long illness. He was 88.

Julius, born in New York in 1927, was the younger brother of Reginald Julius, who also became a firefighter.

The two men, both WWII veterans who served overseas — Reginald in the Navy and Vincent in the Army — were among just a handful of black firefighters who served in the city’s outer boroughs during the unrest of the 1960s and ‘70s.

Julius became a captain of Ladder 112 in Bushwick in the late ‘70s, where fires bigger than three alarms were called a “Bushwick Sunrise.” He retired in Feb. 1985 after a distinguished career.

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Julius decided to become a city firefighter after receiving an honorable discharge from the Army as a Staff Sgt. in 1946.

He applied at a time when black firefighters were still scarce — numbering around 50 out of a force of more than 6,000.

Julius was profiled as part of a 2002 book, “So Others Might Live."

Julius was profiled as part of a 2002 book, “So Others Might Live.”

(BASIC BOOKS)

Julius joined the Vulcan Society, the association of black firefighters that exists today.

He fought for more inclusion for black firefighters — who at times were ostracized by colleagues to sleep in “black beds” in the firehouses.

Julius was profiled as part of a 2002 book, “So Others Might Live,” detailing the extensive history of the FDNY.

“It’s all about ordinary people who have found a calling over and above what the average person does,” Julius told author Terry Golway.

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“You go into a burning building, down a hallway, you see what we call the red demon, and that red demon’s fingers are reaching out for you, and they’re saying, ‘C’mon. C’mon. I’ve got something for you. C’mon.’ And you put your head down and you keep moving,” he said in the book.

FDNY Captain Vincent W. Julius helped draft this resolution with other members of the New York City Fire Department in 1963 that condemns actions by the Birmingham Fire Department during the children's marches. 

FDNY Captain Vincent W. Julius helped draft this resolution with other members of the New York City Fire Department in 1963 that condemns actions by the Birmingham Fire Department during the children’s marches.

(AMY SEDLIS / WBHM)

Julius lived his life as he fought fires — with an eye always turned toward progress.

He was an active and vocal member of the Vulcan Society and served as president of the organization in the 1970s, helping to buy its current headquarters, a brownstone on Eastern Parkway.

Julius was also a co-founder of the International Association of Black Professional Firefighters in 1969. The group had its first conference in 1970.

An ardent supporter of Civil Rights, Julius played a critical role in getting the city’s fire unions to denounce the fire departments of southern cities who turned fire hoses on peaceful marchers and protestors.

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In 1963, Julius — by then an officer — asked the Uniformed Fire Officers Association to write a resolution condemning the use of hoses on civilians, especially children.

FDNY Captain Vincent W. Julius, a former Army Staff Sgt. during WWII, became captain of Ladder 112 in Bushwick in the late '70s.

FDNY Captain Vincent W. Julius, a former Army Staff Sgt. during WWII, became captain of Ladder 112 in Bushwick in the late ’70s.

(COURTESY OF THE VINCENT FAMILY)

The UFOA’s all-white executive board agreed — but when it presented the resolution to the membership, it was voted down, Julius said.

Even though he was one of the few black officers in the union — and a new member — Julius spoke up, and forced the board to pass the resolution anyway.

“I’m very proud of that,” Julius told Birmingham NPR station WBHM last year. “It was a good move, a tough move. I took some brick bats for it, but who the hell cares? Life is made to take adversaries.”

He was the first black firefighter appointed to the FDNY Honor Emergency Fund, which gave out financial assistance to needy families of fallen smoke eaters.

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In the turbulent 1970s, part of the FDNY’s busiest stretch known as the “War Years,” he was the department’s community liaison to underserved neighborhoods — places where the fires burned highest and firefighters often found themselves pelted with rocks and garbage from tenement rooftops.

Julius joined the Vulcan Society, the association of black firefighters that exists today.

Julius joined the Vulcan Society, the association of black firefighters that exists today.

When women moved to join the all-male Bravest in the late 1970s, Julius was their most outspoken champion, said his longtime colleague and friend, James T. Lee.

“He was an organization man, he did a tremendous amount for every organization he joined,” said the 85-year-old retired FDNY firefighter.

“Vinnie always kept the fire burning for justice,” Lee said.

A viewing and funeral will be held Monday, May 16 at 10 a.m. at Mt. Calvary Baptist Church, at 75 Pine Lakes Parkway South in Palm Coast, Florida.

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

9/11 Memorial Speech Oceana NAS 2014