Thank you to all who made this moment possible. I do not take it lightly or for granted. Hope you enjoy this little talk.
More to follow…
Just before he rolled up his sleeve to get his COVID-19 vaccination Monday, New Haven Fire Chief John A. Alston Jr. acknowledged it was a historic moment. He not only became one of the first people vaccinated by the city’s Health Department, but — as person of color — he said he was showing people that it is safe.
“These are unprecedented times and the fire department has literally been the tip of the spear in fighting this virus,” Alston said. “This is the best possible tool we have to fight this and the only way that it works is if everyone gets vaccinated.”
It was an honor to get the vaccine from APRN Grace Grajales who has been the coordinator for the NHFD during these trying times. Grace works around the clock to arrange testing, contact tracing, follow-up and return to work.
Had it not been for the COVID19 outbreak and life continuing on its merry way, I would have been at #FDIC2020, in Indianapolis, Indiana (God-willing).
I was honored to be invited to give the Opening Ceremony Speech, this year. But that was not to be. I want to thank Bobby and the Committee for that honor. I was, however, rewarded with another honor because of this crisis. I got to see my department the New Haven Fire Department ramp up and stand up to this pandemic.
I could not be more proud as a firefighter and Fire Chief.
Even though my speech was written for a different time and different place, the values still hold true.
You Can Get There From Here. Find the positive. Don’t feed the negative. #PatienceNotPanic
There is a new normal forming and we have to be a part of it or be out of step. The difference between dinosaurs and crocodiles is that one of them adapted to their environment and the other became extinct.
Take care of yourselves and your families.
Learn to Lead Through Crisis and I’ll see you on the other side.
Captain Tiffanye Wesley and her team guard the U.S. Pentagon. Along with this trusted position, she is an author, leader and continues to inspire others. She speaks about her challenges and her perseverance. I continue to see her on the national stage and she is always willing and able to support others and share.
Tiffanye S. Wesley is celebrated as a leader and trailblazer. The leadership trainer and inspirational speaker is also a Fire/EMS Captain II with the Arlington County Fire Department in Arlington, Virginia – the first African American female to be promoted to this level of leadership in the department’s 71-year history.
A 24-year veteran of the Arlington County Fire Department, Tiffanye has served in numerous positions. The most notable positions include Nationally Certified Bomb Technician and Bomb Commander, Station Commander for the largest and busiest firehouse in Arlington and most recently Acting Battalion Chief where she is responsible for effective supervision, management and coordination of emergency scene operations, as well as; daily operations of a battalion (5 fire stations).
Though known for putting out fires, she also ignites audiences as a leadership trainer often focusing on leading with integrity and respect.
Tiffanye also recently released her published work in the book anthology, No More Chains. Her story is also profiled in a 2017 documentary by the same title.
While attending the 2018 i-Women Conference, I had the most fortunate opportunity to sit down with Ms. Cindy Ell of the Fire Fighter Cancer Foundation.
The Fire Fighter Cancer Foundation:
Working to Extinguish Fire Fighter Cancer
Firefighters dedicate their lives to the service of others. The Fire Fighter Cancer Foundation was established in 2004 to provide international outreach, support, and resource assistance programs for firefighters and family members that are stricken by cancer.
The Foundation is creating state of the art programs for cancer education, awareness, research and prevention to ensure the quality of life and retirement of fire fighters around the world.
Cindy is a wealth of information and showed us many of the products and information packs that they have developed to help educate Fire Fighters and their families. We had the chance to talk about Cancer, as it relates to the work environment and the impact it has on first responders and our families. It was one of the most uplifting discussions I have had on this subject. Cindy is a driven advocate for healthy Fire Fighters and their families.
There was such a wide range of topics and programs that we encourage you to visit their website at: www.ffcancer.org
And then donate…
Thank you to Connecticut State Representatives Pat Boyd and Brian Ohler for your Co-Leadership of the CT Fire-EMS Caucus. Your valued support for the safety, operations and well-being of First Responders in the State of Connecticut has not gone unnoticed.
We had the chance to testify at the State Capitol to solicit support for the proper funding of the Regional Fire Schools.
Special thanx and shout out to the Connecticut State Fire and EMS Caucus for granting time to hear the concerns for adequate funding of the regional fire schools. The Caucus was fully supported by the CT Career Fire Chiefs, the IAFF and our surrounding partners in Public Safety.
I haven’t been active on social media, blogs or podcasts, in over a year. Some may know that I retired from the Jersey City Fire Department with 31 years.
Recently, I had the privilege of speaking to the Connecticut Fire Service Instructor’s Association. The topic was training the new firefighter.
It was an informal talk at their Annual Meeting. The audio is what it is, due to the fact that I did not record the talk in my usual fashion. 🙂
We talked about the classic model of training:
And if you want further information:
Hope it works for you!
Union County Fire Academy 2016 Graduation Keynote Speech by Battalion Chief John Alston of the Jersey City Fire Department. Subject: “What is Past is Prologue”.
Special thanks to my Union County Academy Family for the invitation to address the graduates; my esteemed honor and privilege to do so.
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
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.
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 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.
“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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
One might wonder how a Jersey City fire fighter ended up participating in Junior Fire Fire Fighter Competition in Warren County, North Carolina. No wonder at all. My Dad was born 8 miles from there in Littleton, NC. I was invited to speak at the African American Heritage Festival last year, when they honored Firefighters. There I met some great folks….Fire Chief & Mayor Gardner, Chief Advisor John Franks, Chaplain Stith and J. Greene. As firefighters do, we hit it of. I told them about my years of coming back to North Carolina and about my love for our noble profession.
They shared the workings of the various departments and EMS. Our friendship was formed. Firefighters are the same, all over!
What an excellent couple of days spent with the Warren County (NC) Junior Firefighters, as they hosted the 2016 Junior Fire Fighter Competition. I want to thank Chief Advisor, John Franks for his warm invitation and welcome to share with the Juniors. We spent a great day with them and groups from West Virginia, Tennessee, Kentucky and neighboring areas. The spirit of competition and camaraderie, among the groups and supporters, was a true inspiration. I particularly liked the fact that on several occasions faster team members completed their tasks and rather than run on to complete their “personal best time”, they stayed in the zone and helped their teammates complete their task…an example for us all.
Hoseline tug-of-war competition. This was an exhilarating battle between several young teen groups. Their perseverance and attention to details won the battle for them. Stellar examples of situational awareness!
Learned a great lesson from these young people…don’t give up and rely on your training. There were several times that it looked like the battle would go one way. These young crews dug in and moved the barrel. I over heard a few of the coaches relate these incidents to fire fighting. Telling them how hold the line, work the nozzle and how to back each other up.
Here is a unique chance to see teamwork and team-building, from the host group Warrenton.
There were several other events. I’ll post more when I’m back…