Progress: The FDNY Now Has as Many Female Firefighters as It Did In 1982

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Photo by Santiago Felipe
Sarinya Srisakul, current president of the United Women Firefighters.
Tuesday is graduation day at the New York City Fire Academy, and this particular ceremony also doubles as a bit of a landmark. The graduation takes place at the Christian Cultural Center in Brooklyn; Mayor Bill de Blasio is scheduled to address the new graduates at 11 a.m., along with outgoing Fire Commissioner Salvatore Cassano and Department Chief Edward Kilduff. The mayor will be speaking to a graduating class of 286 people, about 45 percent of whom identify as black, Latino or Asian. And four of them are women, bringing the total number of female firefighters in the FDNY to 41. There haven't been that many women in the department since 1982, the first year the FDNY was required to allow female firefighters to serve following a lengthy court battle.

There are about 10,500 active-duty firefighters in the FDNY, meaning that even with the new graduates, women make up less than one half of one percent of their ranks. For the United Women Firefighters, today's graduation represents real, if frustratingly slow, progress.

The UWF is a fraternal organization that represents female firefighters in the FDNY. In a statement, they expressed both optimism about their growing numbers and continuing frustration at the snail-like speed at which women are hired in the department:

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Female Firefighters Hope New FDNY Commissioner Can Do Something About All the Sexism [UPDATED]

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Dominic Perri
Retired FDNY captain Brenda Berkman was reportedly on de Blasio's shortlist of candidates.
On Friday, five months into his term, Mayor Bill de Blasio finally announced his new pick to lead the New York City Fire Department, appointing Dan Nigro as FDNY Commmissioner.

Nigro is eminently qualified: he's a 32-year veteran of the department, their former Chief of Operations, and on September 11, led the FDNY through its brutal and heartbreaking search and rescue mission at Ground Zero. (Because of that last qualification, he's also been mentioned in some particularly convoluted 9/11 conspiracy theories, too dumb to get into here, which he has politely and with a great deal of self control called "without merit.".)

But Nigro's appointment was also a bit of a surprise, following reports that de Blasio was looking at a number of women and people of color to fill the position, including retired captain Brenda Berkman, former FDNY attorney Mylan Denerstein, and Rochell "Rocky" Jones, the city's first female fire captain.

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The FDNY and the NYPD's Annual Charity Hockey Game Turned Into A Giant Brawl

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Screenshot via Instagram user the1andonly_dj
This time yesterday, Police Commissioner William Bratton was filed with boyish excitement over the New York Police Department's annual charity hockey match with the FDNY at the Nassau Coliseum in Long Island:

He hasn't sent out a follow-up tweet celebrating the NYPD's 8-5 victory, probably because everyone is busy talking about the enormous, bench-clearing brawl that broke out between the two teams in the second half.

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United Women Firefighters Say "Backhanded Hazing" and Unfair Testing Is Keeping Women from the FDNY

Categories: FDNY, Fire

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Image via FDNY 2012 annual report.
Ten percent of the FDNY's current female firefighters.
The New York City Fire Department is once again facing scrutiny over its low, low numbers of female firefighters. Those numbers could hardly be much worse: there are about 11,000 firefighters in the FDNY today, and just 37 of them are women, less than one half of one percent. The FDNY leadership says they're doing everything they can to recruit more women. But an organization of female firefighters, along with American Civil Liberties Union, say the FDNY is still promoting unfair testing practices designed to keep women out, and that hazing and harassment of female firefighters is still common.

Brenda Berkman thinks this whole situation looks unpleasantly familiar. Berkman sued the FDNY for gender discrimination FDNY in the 1970s, leading to the department being ordered to hire women. At a hearing on Friday, December 13, she accused the FDNY of "repeating many of the same mistakes that led to its terrible record in the recruitment and hiring of women firefighters."

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Susan Sarandon Playing Ping-Pong with FDNY Commissioner Salvatore Cassano [PHOTO]

Categories: FDNY

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Insider Images/Andrew Kelly for STIGA
"Say, Norma. We should get to ping-pongin'."
Fresh off getting vaginas off the minds of lady voters with some ping-pong, Susan Sarandon got busy getting fighting fires off the minds of firefighters with some ping-pong. Sarandon, who is part owner of the Space Age ping-pong boutique Spin New York, will donate 10 tables to firehouses and EMS stations around the city. Everybody celebrated with a photo op on August 21, in which Sarandon takes on FDNY Commissioner Salvatore Cassano for some one-on-one paddle-fwapping.

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Appeals Court Rules on New York Fire Department Discrimination

Categories: Courts, FDNY

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FDNY is discriminatory, court says, but it hasn't yet been proven that it's intentional.
The Fire Department of New York has a discrimination problem: In a city where, in 2002, 25 percent of the population was black and 27 percent was Hispanic, the fire department was 2.6 percent black and 3.7 percent Hispanic. Other city agencies don't have this problem, and neither do fire departments in other major cities.

As Steven Thrasher extensively documented for the Voice in 2010, the overwhelming and disproportionate whiteness of the FDNY has been the subject of a roiling legal struggle for nearly half a century. The current lawsuit, brought by the Justice Department over an Equal Employment complaint by the Vulcan Society, a group of black firefighters, has been ricocheting around the federal court system since 2007.

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The FDNY's "Bad Lieutenant" Resigns Because the FDNY Has a Social Media Problem

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About a month ago, the New York Post ran a frontpage story on Timothy Dluhos, a 12-year EMS lieutenant in Bed-Stuy with a really terrible social media presence. This guy was tweeting things like "I'm going to give up racial insults for Lent. Jesus that didn't [last] too long. F--ken chinks can't drive" and "That's how King Jew sees it. Ban all guns & shootings will go down in NYC. But it's the criminals w/the guns." He ran under the moniker of "Bad Lieutenant" (appropriate) and he had Hitler holding a baby dinosaur as his profile picture (...appropriate?).

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We Should Be Thankful for the New FDNY Social Media Guidelines

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Last week, fellow Voice scribe Nick Greene gave us the lowdown on social media informalities for Facebook. Can you post pictures of your vacation? No, please don't. How about your political views? Stop, nobody cares. And what about a job promotion? Ugh. You get the picture.

These standards of Internet presence are raised for governmental officials (see: Anthony Weiner). Municipal figures are held to a much higher regard in our social community; therefore, their opinions are taken more seriously in the public eye. And you represent our collective body politic, so you better act like it online.

Last month, the EMT son of FDNY Commissioner Sal Cassano was caught by the New York Post tweetin' up a racist storm. He jeered at minority groups from his computer/phone keyboard, not keeping in mind that, hey, his dad is the head of the FDNY. Also, it was later found that other EMTs were posting pictures of (and then berating) their patients online.

Enter the FDNY's social media guidelines announced this weekend, in which the department advises its workers to have some decency (read: no racism allowed) online.

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Are Food Trucks Terrorist Threats? The FDNY Seems to Think So.

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We knew the Wafels and Dinges truck was too good to be true!

According to a recent PowerPoint presentation obtained by the research group Public Intelligence, the Fire Department of New York has been warning its members to keep their eyes out for food trucks of all shapes and sizes. The reason? Well, with more than 3,100 of these guys roaming the streets in large vans each year, a black market for permits is a viable reality. And what's synonymous with the black market? Terrorism.

Unfortunately, the presentation, entitled "Food Trucks: A Transient Hazard," makes a few good points. Sorry in advance but this is the kind of story that you wish you never heard.  


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A Christmas Tree Set a Car on Fire in the East Village

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As Myles wrote on Monday, it's high time to throw away your old, dead Christmas tree. But while doing so, please dispose of it properly! According to the blog Strollerderby, a Christmas tree was seen in flames, in the East Village, the other night. It managed to set an entire minivan on fire. (EV Grieve says this happened on 7th Street between A and 1st, and has photos -- it appears that the car's windows were blown out from the fire.)

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