Two women, married couple among newest Newark Fire Department recruits

By Dan Ivers | NJ Advance Media for
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on October 27, 2014

The Newark Fire Department Honor Guard opens the ceremony with a march into St. Lucy's Church.


NEWARK — The city sent a new class of 42 new Fire Department recruits off to the Newark Fire Academy this morning, including two women and a married couple.

In a ceremony held at St. Lucy’s Church, the 44th class in the department’s history were officially sworn in and treated to a warm welcome from Mayor Ras Baraka, Fire Director James Stewart Jr. and others.

“This is a special class for us,” Baraka said, noting the presence of new recruits Veronica Garay and Aid Villalongo.

“Newark’s commitment to making sure we have more women in representation throughout our city is being made known today.”

Other speakers praised the new recruits for signing up for a post that often requires them to put their personal safety on the line, and thanked city officials for successfully pursuing a $5.6 million grant under the federal Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) program that paid for the new class.

“There’s still a shortage in the department,” said Fire Officers Union President Capt. Anthony Tarantino. “None of this happens without the mayor understanding public safety and making sure this happens.”

Should Garay and Villalongo graduate from the Fire Academy, they will double the number of women in the active ranks to four. The women are the fourth and fifth female recruits in the history of the department, officials said.

In an interview after the ceremony, Garay and her husband Cesar said they had chosen to become firefighters after Cesar was told during his application process that the department was looking for female recruits.

The couple, who have been married 11 years and previously worked together as teaching in local public schools, said they were ready to endure the grueling training process at the academy together.

“Being together, we support each other for one, and back each other up,” Cesar Garay said.

Also sworn in at the ceremony were four newly promoted captains, Kevin Dugan, Joseph Delikat, Anthony Graves and Fredrick Pecora.

Fire Chief John G. Centanni Jr., whose son John Centanni III was among the new recruits, said the additions to the department would help boost its numbers and help it be more effective.

“Through attrition, we’re losing many members through retirement, we need that new blood,” he said, adding that the two women sworn in added an extra sense of significance.

“I think it’s a great thing. A real historical thing,” he said.

The full list of new recruits is below.

John S. Tracy Jr.

Joseph J. Troise

Seay M. Fletcher

Veronica G. Garay

Brian J. Laube

Michael Swinarski

Angel L. Torres

Joseph D. Riley

Adam S. Rawa

Cesar J. Garay

Carlos Maldonado

Gregory P. Terpak

Isaac J. Jordan

Mayk Silveira

Erick Burgos-Perez

Timothy W. Loessel

Aida L. Villalongo

Salvatore Vicari

Troy J. Harrison

Ramadan I. Edwards

Steven E. Danker

Najiy S. Davis

Bruno Alves

Bowie D. Fonseca

Jorge Bermo

Tony J. DaSilva

Naazir Q. Jackson

John A. Williams

Richard P. Barrow

Derrick M. Brown

John G. Centanni III

James T. Morrison

Antonio F. Cruz

Ameer N. Jones

Ibnakbar Richardson

Jerson Ravelo

Jahied C. Hawkins

Tashaad J. Benders

Alsaleem Herd

Jacob Ramos

Jamison J. McIntosh

Javier Morales

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