'A proud day': Grandson of Jersey City’s first Black firefighter promoted to battalion chief

Dwayne Taylor, a third-generation city firefighter, credited his grandfather for breaking boundaries in the city


By FireRescue1 staff

JERSEY CITY, N.J. — The grandson of Jersey City’s first Black firefighter was promoted to battalion chief during a ceremony at Jersey City’s City Hall on Thursday.

Dwayne Taylor, a third-generation city firefighter, commented on the “proud day,” as reported by The Jersey Journal: “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. 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.”

Seven others were promoted as well. Andy Azize Sr., Bela Vaszlavk and Roberto Robalino joined Taylor as new battalion chiefs. Raymond Gracia, Collin Caesar, Daniel Pellegrino and Osmell Estrada were promoted to captain. Officials shared that six of the eight firefighters promoted represent minorities, and touted Mayor Steve Fulop’s administration’s diversity recruitment effort.

Taylor’s grandfather, Thomas Gerald Taylor, made history in 1950 when he was hired and ultimately rose to the rank of captain. He went on to serve as president of the Jersey City branch of the NAACP and co-founded the Vulcan Pioneers of New Jersey, a civic organization consisting of minority firefighters from northern New Jersey municipalities. He died in 2009.

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