Remembering the lives of 2 veteran Newark firefighters killed in ship fire

Two Newark firefighters made the ultimate sacrifice when they lost their lives while battling a cargo ship fire in Port Newark.

Augusto “Augie” Acabou, 45, was a nine-year veteran and assigned to Engine 16 in the East Ferry neighborhood. His body was tragically discovered by his cousin who is also a Newark firefighter.

Wayne “Bears” Brooks Jr., 49, was a 16-year veteran and assigned to Ladder 4 in the South Ironbound neighborhood.

Those who knew Brooks said his commitment to duty was unmatched. That’s why retired Battalion Fire Chief Matthew Cordasco said he recruited him straight out of the academy almost 17 years ago.

“You do get a reputation,” Cordasco said. “I wanted him for my tour.”

Aside from his work ethic and infectious smile, he had a personality that garnered him the nickname Bear.

There is a growing memorial outside Engine 16 and a flag at half staff at Ladder 4.

Five firefighters were also injured. Three Newark firefighters suffered various injuries.

Captain David Rogers, 44, is a 17-year veteran and suffered a burn to his foot. He was treated at the burn unit at St. Barnabas Medical Center in Livingston.

Captain Michael Spadavecchia, 38, a 10-year veteran suffered heat exhaustion. He’s under observation at University Hospital in Newark.

Captain Richard Cooper, 55, is a 17-year veteran. He’s being treated for respiratory distress and possible smoke inhalation.

And two Elizabeth firefighters were also being treated for smoke inhalation and heat exhaustion.

Others were treated at the scene or checked out at area hospitals, mostly for smoke inhalation.

Mike Giunta, President of the Newark Firefighters Union released a statement saying: “It is with profound sadness that the Newark Firefighters Union announces the tragic loss of two firefighters who made the ultimate sacrifice while battling a devastating fire last night in the Port of Newark. We mourn the loss of our brothers Augusto (Augie) Acabou and Wayne (Bear) Brooks Jr., who bravely dedicated their lives to keeping the people of Newark safe. The Acabou and Brooks families are part of our family; we will mourn together and hold them tight. We are grateful for the outpouring of support the community has extended to Newark Firefighters. Just as we have always been there for the people of Newark in their time of need, you are here for us in our time of need. We will honor the sacrifice of Augie and Bear by continuing to do the job they loved, so if the people of Newark need help, we are still a phone call away.”

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