A third-generation Jersey City firefighter has hit a career milestone over 70 years after his grandfather became the first Black man to join the Jersey City Fire Department.
On Saturday, Mayor Steve Fulop celebrated the success of his administration’s diversity recruitment efforts with the promotion of four African American firefighters and three Hispanic firefighters to the ranks of captain or battalion chief, NJ.com reports.
Among them was Dwayne Taylor, whose grandfather Thomas Gerald Taylor made history when he integrated the JCFD in 1950. He went on to co-found the Vulcan Pioneers of New Jersey, a civic organization made up of minority firefighters from across northern New Jersey.
The elder Taylor also served as president of the Jersey City branch of the NAACP. His son Wayne, Dwayne’s father, also served in the JCFD.
“It started with my grandfather breaking through boundaries as the first Black firefighter in one of New Jersey’s largest cities, and it continues today with me being promoted to Battalion Chief,” the younger Taylor said “It’s something my grandfather likely never imagined would happen 60 years later. I’m grateful for the opportunity to carry on my grandfather’s and father’s legacies by serving this great community.”
The Fulop administration has made a concerted effort to bring more diversity to the fire department over the last eight years. And the mayor believes this latest round of promotions ““speaks volumes about the progress we’ve made.”
In all, eight firefighters were included in Saturday’s ceremony, meaning that the 75% of the city’s new fire captains and battalion chiefs are minorities.
“As we continue to strengthen our department with the best firefighters in the state, we need to include quality leadership throughout our firehouses citywide,” Fire Chief Steve McGill said. “Today’s promotions achieve exactly that. These new captains and battalion chiefs have worked hard to get to where they are today, and we appreciate their commitment to serving Jersey City and keeping the community safe.”