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Jim’s stellar fire service career began in 1960, where as a Probie he responded to his first of many numerous major incidents, when two planes collided over the city (12/16/60) with one plane crashing in the Park Slope section of Brooklyn and the other coming down in Staten Island. Within 3 days after this mid-air collision, he was battling the famous major fire on the USS Constellation aircraft carrier that killed 50 workers. The ship was under construction in the Brooklyn Naval Yard.
Throughout his career, the vast response experiences from 1960 to September 11th and beyond has served as a broad knowledge base that he would share in a more perfect union of fire and emergency management expertise.
Despite being cited for many Department Service Rating Medals and Unit Citations for bravery, his humbling demeanor spoke volumes as to his character, never seeking any accolades, but always applauding firefighters who were acting as one.
Here is an example of his character, last year he received an EZ Pass late notice bill for passing through a toll booth on the New Jersey Turnpike, the vehicle license plate read, ”Tonka Truck”. While Jim sold his car more than 25 years ago with this plate, he passed the old plate along to his former company, L124. Rather than contest the EZPass as to the type of vehicle photographed on camera, Jim paid the fine of $50.00 over a challenge to pay a 90 cents toll fee.
Some Fire & OEM Career Highlights of Captain Ellson:
- FDNY: Firefighter/E65 & L102
- It was at L124 that he got the nickname, “Lord Jim”, serving as a fellow officer along with Peter Ganci
- Chief of Department
- SOC Executive Officer to Deputy Chief Ray Downeyo
- USAR/Task Force-1 Team Leader
- Deputy Commissioner in the Mayor’s Office of Emergency Management
- Instructor: FDNY fire academy
- John Jay College fire science and emergency management programs
- Guest lecturer at many state and national forums
- Fire Safety Directors Association (NYC)/Board Member
- FDIC Education Team (1997-2005)
- NYS/DHS, his last gig working logistics for Superstorm Sandy