'Upset and heartbroken' - Families of fallen Newark firefighters call out department leadership
The families of two fallen Newark firefighters are placing blame for their deaths on a lack of leadership by the Newark Fire Department.
Specifically, they are targeting former Chief Rufus Jackson. Jackson testified in Union Township, New Jersey during day five of a Coast Guard hearing investigating the July 5 ship fire in Port Newark. Firemen Augusto Acabou and Wayne Brooks became trapped amongst the burning cars on board the Costa De A’vorio and lost their lives.
Jackson testified that his firefighters hadn’t been trained on ship-board training since 2014. And could not answer whether or not the rank and file were required to have such training. He also stated that when he arrived at the fire scene he believed the city’s two fire boats were operating when they were actually out of service.
The victim’s family’s are suing the city of Newark, as well as ship owner Grimaldi and Ports America.
“The family and I are deeply disturbed, upset and heartbroken all over again by the things that we heard the last two weeks especially today from Rufus Jackson," said Michele Brooks, widow to the Wayne Brooks.
“Clearly Augi and Wayne’s death was preventable," added Miguel Acabou, Augusto's brother.
The President of the International Association of Firefighters, Edward Kelly, went further saying, “The testimony we heard today from then Chief Jackson was appalling. The negligent operation of the Newark fire department not only led to the deaths of our brothers Augi and Bear puts the entire city in Jeopardy. The Newark fire department needs new leadership period.”
The fire on board the Costa De A’vorio started when a Jeep Wrangler caught fire. It was being used to push disabled cars onto the ship.
The hearing continues tomorrow.