FDNY welcomes 291 probies at graduation ceremony; female firefighters at record level

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Tuesday, March 8, 2022
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Darla Miles has more on the FDNY graudation ceremony welcoming 13 women -- the most in the department's history.

NEW YORK CITY (WABC) -- The FDNY welcomed 291 probationary firefighters at a graduation ceremony Tuesday, with 13 women in the class bringing the total number of female firefighters to 134 -- the most in the department's history.

"It was grueling, tough, rewarding," probationary firefighter Katherine Lapp said. "Just awesome, exciting, all that."

But the real excitement begins Wednesday, when the group of graduates may very well become the first woman ever to work in their assigned firehouse.

"It's pretty amazing, the way we came together and got each other through these last 18 weeks," Lapp said. "It's pretty awesome. It's a group of strong, intelligent women."

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Acting Fire Commissioner Laura Kavanagh presided over the graduation, held at the Christian Cultural Center in Brooklyn.

"Today, on International Women's Day, having the honor to be the first female fire commissioner in the 157 year history of the FDNY," she said. "With more women and people of color in each new class of firefighters, we continue to demonstrate that this job is available to every man and woman looking for a career of service as members of New York City's Bravest."

People of color comprise 37% of the graduating probationary firefighters, with 23% identifying as Hispanic, 11% as Black, and 3% as Asian American.

"It's a huge milestone for the fire department," Kavanaugh said. "We have more women than we've ever had in the department's history."

The most recent firefighter recruitment campaign aiming to attract more women and minorities started six years ago.

"I wanted to go into law enforcement initially, but I came across a chief at my college fair," probationary firefighter Aisha loane said. "And he told me, he looked at me and said, 'You would make a great firefighter.'"

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Still, with women only making up 1.5% of the department, there is more work to be done.

Over their 18 weeks at the FDNY Training Academy, this class trained in all aspects of firefighting: fire suppression and medical response, hazardous materials, collapse and confined space rescue training, auto extrication, building inspections and procedures for engine and ladder operations.

The probationary firefighters will be assigned to firehouses throughout the city.

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