The first time I met Captain Vincent Julius of the FDNY and Vulcan Society of New York was in Buffalo New York in 1986. 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.
“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…
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!
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.
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.
They also respond to larger fires throughout Hudson County.
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!
Congratulations Gong Club Chief Connie Spellman and members.
We celebrate and honor our friends in the Jersey City Gong Club!
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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