Maintaining a Presence—
Recruiting and Training the Next Class (1980s–2012)

The physical part of the firefighter test, the lack of role models, inaccurate information about the requirements for the job, and the history of a mixed welcome have all contributed to the small number of women firefighters so many years after the pioneering class. Analysis shows that from 1982–2005, the only women who succeeded in being hired as FDNY firefighters were those who had participated in a hands-on physical training program spearheaded by the UWF where the women candidates practiced the physical test.

Recruitment brochures reflect some of the FDNY’s efforts (only modestly successful) to attract a diverse candidate pool. Only with the establishment of a full-time recruitment unit with the active assistance of the United Women Firefighters, did FDNY succeed in recruiting a large number of women to file for the firefighter exam. It remains to be seen, however, how many women candidates will show up for and pass the physical portion of the exam.
  • Diverse group of firefighters photographed for a recruitment brochure

    Firefighter Marianne Monahan in a photo taken for a recruitment brochure circa 1980s.

    Courtesy of Marianne Monahan

  • Recruiting women

    Firefighters Anna Schermerhorn-Collins and Eileen Gregan and Lieutenant Brenda Berkman (center) at a recruitment table in the 1980s. Volunteering to prepare the new women applicants for the firefighter test has been a constant task for the “old-timers,” even after retirement.

    Courtesy of Tamiment Library

  • Recruiting for diversity

    This recruitment campaign generated a high level of ridicule from within the FDNY in the late 1990s.

    Courtesy of Tamiment Library

  • “Genderless” brochure

    “Genderless” recruitment brochure with a photo of Firefighter Cecelia Salters (Owens Cox), circa 1998.

    Courtesy of Tamiment Library

  • Physical training is consistently difficult

    Firefighter Maritza Robles (retired) practicing for the FDNY physical test circa 2000.

    Courtesy of Tamiment Library

  • Practicing for the FDNY physical test

    Candidate (now Lieutenant) Michele Fitzsimmons practicing for the FDNY physical test, circa 2000.

    Courtesy of Tamiment Library

  • Veteran helps candidate train for the physical test

    Rocky Jones helping Francesca Smith (now Lieutenant) train for the FDNY physical test, circa 2000.

    Courtesy of Tamiment Library

  • “Growth Opportunities”

    Battalion Chief Rocky Jones on a recruitment brochure circa 2003.

    Courtesy of Rochelle Jones

  • New generation on the job

    Sophy Medina and Sarinya Srisakul, circa 2010.

    Courtesy of Sarinya Srisakul

  • “Record number of women take test in 2012”

    “On Fire” reads the Daily News headline on March 9th, 2012 in this clipping with a group photo of women firefighters/officers working in Brooklyn. Left to right: Captain Brenda Berkman, Firefighter Aisha Ricca, Firefighter Regina Wilson, Firefighter Kinga Mielnik (Kusek), Firefighter Daiana Mielnik (kneeling), Lieutenant Adrienne Walsh, Unnamed Firefighter, Firefighter Tracy Lewis (kneeling), Firefighter Eileen Gregan and Lieutenant Ella McNair.