Meet the 18-Year-Old New Yorker Who Wants to Be the FDNY's First Female Muslim Firefighter

Categories: FDNY

Irene Chidinma Nwoye, Village Voice
Ahlam Ahmed

Ahlam Ahmed is determined to become a New York City firefighter. The petite eighteen-year-old of Yemeni descent stands five feet tall, weighs just 105 pounds, and is well aware of the physical challenges inherent to the job. But she is resolute.

In a dining room at the FDNY Academy on Randalls Island, Ahmed is the only observant Muslim in a group of about 60 women. They range from military veterans and teenage members of the department's Explorer program to college athletes and hopefuls who have already taken the department's most recent firefighter exam. They're all here to participate in the FDNY's first-ever Women's History Month Female Outreach Event, created to help inspire more women to join the department.

"I want to see what the FDNY has to offer," Ahmed says matter-of-factly. She is dressed in jeans and a red sweater. A white scarf artfully conceals her neck, ears, and hair.

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Two Bodies Found in Rubble of East Village Building Explosion

Photo by C.S. Muncy for the Village Voice
The rubble at East 7th Street and Second Avenue in the East Village
Authorities found two bodies on Sunday in the rubble of a building in the East Village, after an explosion caused by an apparent gas leak destroyed it and its neighboring buildings.

Two people were unaccounted for after the explosion: Moises Ismael Locon, 27, an employee at Sushi Park restaurant, and Nicholas Figueroa, 23, a customer who had just paid the tab, according to his bank record. One body was found twenty feet from the front door and the other body twenty feet behind it, FDNY Commissioner Daniel A. Nigro told reporters Sunday.

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Delta Flight 1086 Skids Off Runway and Into a Fence at LaGuardia

Delta Flight 1086 from Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport to LaGuardia skidded off Runway 13 this snowy morning shortly after landing, but its 127 passengers and 5 crew members were not seriously injured. Investigators with the National Transportation Safety Board will look into the cause of the crash, which occurred near the end of the 7,000-foot runway. According to FlightAware, the McDonnell Douglas MD-88 departed Atlanta at 9:23 a.m. and landed at 10:56 a.m.

Nine minutes later, it skidded, crashed into a berm, and stopped at a fence on the edge of Flushing Bay.

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New York's Bravest Is Trans FDNY Firefighter Brooke Guinan

Photo by Celeste Sloman for the Village Voice
"I couldn't get the voices out of my head of people telling me I'll never be a woman."
"The world doesn't have language to actively allow me to identify myself."

Leaning over the kitchen countertop in her two-bedroom apartment in Queens, Brooke Guinan tries to explain, via four horizontal lines she has plotted on a piece of paper, how the notion of gender is far more complex than the two extremes of "male" and "female." The lines represent four continuums: biological sex, gender identity, gender expression, and sexual orientation.

"I don't have a sexuality!" Guinan exclaims. "How does the world define a woman who was born male who likes men? What is the sexuality for that? You could say I was gay, but I don't identify as male. Trans is my gender identity. 'Transgender' is about my gender; it has nothing to do with my sexuality.

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The FDNY Now Has More Female Firefighters Than Ever. Is That Good Enough?

Categories: FDNY

Irene Chidinma Nwoye
Three of the four graduates with members of the United Women Firefighters

History was made in the Fire Department of New York on Tuesday after four female firefighters graduated from the FDNY Fire Academy, raising to 44 the number of women in a department of more than 10,500 members -- the most ever in the FDNY's 149-year history.

See also: The FDNY Is a Force of More Than 10,000. Can You Guess How Many Are Women?

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World Trade Center Window Washer Says the Emergency Brake Failed

Categories: FDNY, Manhattan

Juan Lizama, left, and Juan Lopez
When the scaffolding suspending window washers Juan Lopez and Juan Lizama outside the 68th floor of 1 World Trade Center began slipping, Lopez followed the procedures he remembered: He hit the emergency brake. But it didn't work.

He recounted the moment to a room of reporters gathered at the 32BJ SEIU union headquarters on Friday.

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FDNY's First Transgender Firefighter Gets Her Close-Up

Categories: FDNY, LGBTQ

Via Facebook
Last month, the New York City Fire Department's first and only transgender firefighter, Brooke Guinan, ignited a media storm after a poster of her -- standing defiantly in a helmet, braces, and T-shirt reading "So Trans, So What?" -- went viral.

The poster was part of an awareness campaign of the Vocal Organization for International Courage and Equality, an LGBTQ-advocacy group. And since being catapulted into the public eye, Guinan has been hailed as a role model for breaking the masculine stereotypes associated with firefighting and even other jobs that typecast the macho straight male.

See Also: The FDNY Is a Force of More Than 10,000. Can You Guess How Many of Them Are Women?

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

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]

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

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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