There’s nothing like kicking-off the New Year with an exciting update on the first woman to ever be profiled by Women You Should Know: retired FDNY Captain Brenda Berkman. The New York Daily News is reporting that “For the first time since organized firefighting began in New York more than 350 years ago, a woman might be put in charge of the city’s firefighters.”
Brenda is one of the three women on newly sworn-in Mayor Bill de Blasio’s list of top candidates to run the New York City Fire Department, the largest and most elite fire department in the world.
We can’t think of a more historically monumental appointment than having one of the first women ever to be admitted to the FDNY, who went on to have a robust 25 year career with the department, which included her critical role as a first responder to the World Trade Center disaster site on September 11, 2001, leading the FDNY as its VERY first female Commissioner.
Without this passionate trailblazer and the federal sex discrimination lawsuit she brought against the City of New York in 1979 regarding its entry-level hiring of firefighters, women may never have earned the right to become firefighters… not only in NYC, but anywhere.
Today, Brenda’s lawsuit and landmark victory in 1982 is still regarded as one of the most influential cases in the history of the US fire service as it caused game changing ripple effects in fire houses and departments across the country.