First Women Recruits In New York Fire Dept.

First Women Recruits In New York Fire Dept.


What’s new in the New York Fire Department is —in one word —women. After a long court battle and a revised physical agility test, 43 women became members of a recruit class.

FHowever, one appointee — the wife of a New York fire fighter-decided that caring for her children and husband rated a higher priority than becoming a fire fighter. Two other precedent-setters also dropped out of the class.

At a swearing-in ceremony, Mayor Koch told the recruits that their training would be the same, rigorous preparation for fire duty that has been given to their predecessors. That is as it should be. Graduates will have assurance that they are prepared and able to do the job and the city will be assured that it has added fire fighters to its fire department.

While we re on the subject of women in the fire service, we’ll continue with the story of a different challenge to recruiting procedures. In Danbury, Conn., Bonnie Gavagan filed a suit in U.S. District Court that challenges a 10-point bonus given Danbury volunteer fire fighters when they seek appointment to the paid department. Gavagan complained that her application to join one of the Danbury volunteer fire departments was rejected in 1975 and her inability to claim the 10 points as a volunteer adds up to discrimination.

In the August issue of Fire Engineering, an editorial told of some New Hampshire chiefs who refused to issue permits for the use of kerosine space heaters in occupied structures after the legislature had passed the buck to the chiefs. At its annual meeting, the New England Association of Fire Marshals backed the Granite State chiefs with a resolution praising their resistance.

The fire marshals predicted that with the unrestricted use of kerosine heaters in the severe New England winter weather, “we will see a large increase in loss of lives and property.”

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