Newark, NJ—September 26, 2023— Mayor Ras J. Baraka today announced the promotion of two members of the city’s Department of Public Safety, effective Sunday, October 1. Rufus Jackson, formerly Fire Chief, is promoted to Assistant Public Safety Director, and Del Ortiz moves from Battalion Chief to Fire Chief.
“There are few city administration promotions as momentous as those for Assistant Public Safety Director and Fire Chief. Justly so, there are few members of Newark’s Department of Public Safety family as meritorious and ready to embrace new roles as these two individuals,” said Mayor Baraka. “Rufus Jackson has demonstrated exemplary leadership for the last 28 years in our Fire Division, steadily rising through the ranks on the strength of his experiential acumen and a heart of gold. Since becoming a firefighter 22 years ago, Del Ortiz’s sense of sacrifice and duty, his drive for expert proficiency and his bond of solidarity with colleagues has brought him to this moment of achievement. Our expectations for both these men are nothing less than the outstanding performance they exhibit every day and their unwavering support of fellow public safety professionals.”
“I am immensely grateful to welcome Rufus Jackson to serve as Newark’s Assistant Public Safety Director,” said Public Safety Director Fritz Fragé. “He brings to the role an extensive depth of professionalism and integrity, along with substantial proficiency in leadership and organizational foresight,” Director Fragé added. “Former Fire Chief Jackson’s tremendous competency and knowledge base regarding the City of Newark, where he has served for more than half his life, are invaluable assets to the Newark Department of Public Safety and to the residents of our great city. I applaud Mayor Ras J. Baraka, Business Administrator Eric Pennington, and the members of the City Council for selecting the best and brightest among our members to serve. I also offer the warmest congratulations to our new Fire Chief Del Ortiz and look forward to witnessing the benefits of his expertise and integrity resonate throughout the Fire Division and into every ward of our city.”
In his new role as Assistant Public Safety Director, Jackson will work closely with Director Fragé, new Fire Chief Ortiz, and the department’s executive staff, to provide guidance and executive oversight to the Newark Police and Fire Divisions and the Office of Emergency Management.
“I am most grateful to Mayor Ras J. Baraka, Business Administrator Eric Pennington, and the entire City Council for entrusting me with the role of Assistant Public Safety Director for the City of Newark,” Jackson said. “While growing up in Newark, the city where I was born and raised, I couldn’t imagine reaching this level of servant-leadership. I humbly share this achievement with all Newark Firefighters, especially those who mentored me as I rose through the ranks of the Newark Fire Division,” he said. “This promotion is a tribute to both Honorary Fire Chief David Bolden, who was among the first of three African-American Firefighters hired in Newark in 1956, and to Chief Lowell Jones, who served as the City of Newark’s first African-American Fire Chief from 2000 to 2004.”
Jackson is a 28-year veteran firefighter, who began his career in the Newark Fire Division in 1995, quickly moving up the ranks to Arson Detective in 2002, to Captain and Executive Officer of the Newark Arson Squad in 2004, and to Captain/Company Officer in 2006. Appointed Battalion Fire Chief and Incident Commander/Operations Chief in 2009, and Chief of Staff to the Fire Director in 2010, he became one of the youngest Newark Fire Division Deputy Chiefs in history two years later, at the age of 39. He was promoted to Fire Chief of the Newark Fire Division in 2017.
Jackson honed his stellar management and leadership skills through a successful blend of service, training, and education. A graduate of Rutgers University’s New Jersey Certified Public Managers Program, Dillard University’s Executive Management Institute, and Dale Carnegie’s Step Up to Leadership Training, Jackson has acquired an impressive list of certifications in Fire Suppression, Emergency Incidents, and Catastrophe training.
Newly named Fire Chief Ortiz joined the Newark Fire Division in 2002. He was initially assigned to Engine 11 & Ladder 11, located at 345 South 9th Street, where he worked for 11 years. Trained as a Hazardous Materials Technician and in various Urban Search & Rescue disciplines, he served as Captain and then Battalion Chief for the past 11 years at Engine 10, Ladder 5, Rescue 1, located at 360 Clinton Avenue.
“I am honored and appreciative to Mayor Ras J. Baraka and to his entire administration for selecting me to serve as the Fire Chief for the City of Newark,” Ortiz said. “I look forward to working with former Fire Chief Rufus Jackson to ensure a smooth transition and progressive direction,” he added. “I am grateful for the opportunity to serve within the community I was born into and where I have continued to work throughout my career. When I became a Firefighter 22 years ago, I could not have been prouder to serve this city. I look forward to having a broader reach as I serve the City of Newark in this leadership capacity.”
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