5 women become first all-female fire rescue crew in Florida department's 57-year history

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Monday, September 28, 2020
All-female firefighter crew breaks barriers in Florida
A group of five female firefighters made history in Florida.

PALM BEACH GARDENS, FL -- A group of five female firefighters made history in Florida.

For the first time ever, Palm Beach Gardens Fire Rescue had a crew that was entirely made up of women.

The team working the shift was made up of rescue lieutenants Krystyna Krakowski and Kelsey Krzywada, firefighter paramedic Julie Dudley, captain Monica Marzullo and driver engineer Sandi Ladewski.

"Breaking barriers, yeah. It's the first time we had in our department a female as a captain, a driver, a firefighter, rescue lieutenant, and a medic," Krakowski said.

Krakowski's daughter, Kodi, snapped some pictures of the crew to celebrate the women and promote their non-profit, Firefighters to the Rescue.

"It's so empowering and at the same time, it's humbling at how big it's gotten," Krakowski told Good Morning America. "We are all lifting each other up because there's a small quantity of us. We are each other's biggest cheerleaders. Why can't we do the same as men? We are expected of the same physical demands. . . . Everything applies to us as well as them."

The crew ended up working together, somewhat by chance.

The department's chief said the stars just aligned with the shifts and schedules, but he said that was made possible by the department's progressive policies.

"Our progressive staffing and recruitment efforts are reflected in that moment," Chief James N. Ippolito said. "As an equal opportunity employer, anyone who meets the job performance expectations is qualified to work for our department, regardless of gender."

Ippolito said 11 percent of his department's firefighters are female, compared to just 4 percent nationwide.

As for the message the women hope to send to young girls across the country...

"We can do anything. We are capable of anything. Don't let anything stop you," Krakowski said.

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