This morning history was made in the New York City Fire Department (FDNY), the largest and most elite fire department in the world, when 9 women were sworn in to the fire academy along with 311 men. Nine is the largest number of women to be sworn into an FDNY firefighter class in almost 31 years since the landmark class of September 1982, which included the first 40 women ever to be admitted to the New York City Fire Department thanks to the game changing lawsuit led by trailblazing WYSK Brenda Berkman.

The July 2013 class will be the second of this year and will be a mix of EMS promotional hires, priority hires of the Vulcan Society diversity lawsuit and candidates from the open competitive list. It will be a diverse class, in terms of race and gender. Among those being sworn in, there will be 1 Native American, 6 Asian-Americans, 86 Blacks, 117 Hispanics and 106 Whites. Out of the 9 women, 4 are Black, 2 are Hispanic, 2 are White and 1 is of Asian descent.

The first graduating class of 2013 (from May) included 5 women… the most women to have graduated from a single class since 1982. The July 2013 class has almost double those numbers.

FDNY patchThis is a very exciting time for women firefighters in the FDNY. Currently, there are only 34 women firefighters out of a force of nearly 10,500. A record breaking 1,952 women took the last firefighter exam, which are more women than the last three exams combined.

With the FDNY’s continuing commitment to diversity, the United Women Firefighters Association of New York City Inc. says, “we can realistically expect to see the number of women firefighters double, triple or more, thus radically changing what the FDNY of today looks like.”