by Ginger Adams Otis via nydailynews.com
An EMS captain with 21 years on the job will become the first African-American woman in the Fire Department of New York to achieve the rank of deputy chief on Thursday.
Capt. Tonya Boyd, who joined the FDNY’s Emergency Medical Services while in college as a way to make money, said she never dreamed her career would reach such heights. “I’m so excited and I am so blessed,” the EMS officer told the Daily News. “After hearing about the promotion, I couldn’t believe it. I feel like I’ve knocked down a door and opened it for a lot of EMTs just starting on this job,” said Boyd. “African-American women will see someone who looks like them as a deputy chief and they will know more is possible — their careers won’t top out at paramedic or even lieutenant,” said the captain of Station 39 in Brooklyn.
Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro said Boyd’s success was due to her efforts. “Tonya is not only helping to raise the bar for our ability to provide pre-hospital care, she’s also demonstrating to young women of all backgrounds the incredible rewarding career they can achieve in the FDNY,” Nigro said.
As a young woman growing up in Brooklyn, Boyd, who described herself as “fortysomething,” planned to follow her grandmother into nursing. But a need for cash while in nursing school sent her looking for work — and a cousin suggested she get an EMT license. Thanks to classes offered at Brooklyn College, Boyd passed the state exam. On Jan. 27, 1997, she became an official employee of the FDNY.
It was just after then-Mayor Rudy Giuliani merged the city’s cash-strapped 911 EMS system with the Fire Department — a joining that not everyone in the FDNY embraced.“We were very merger-oriented,” Boyd recalled. “We got through it.” She quickly set her sights on the next challenge — becoming a paramedic. “The FDNY offered a wonderful program that let us go to school from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.,” Boyd said. “I became a paramedic after about seven years.”
Boyd didn’t stop there, moving on to lieutenant and then captain.But the path from rank-and-file to officer isn’t as clear-cut in EMS as it is on the FDNY’s firefighting side. Firefighters take civil service promotional exams for officer ranks and move up in rank according to a scored hiring list. Only the very top brass are appointed at the discretion of FDNY leadership. In EMS, a civil service promotion exam is only given for lieutenant. Promotions above that rank are awarded by discretionary appointment. With roughly 4,000 employees, EMS is far more diverse in gender and race than the city’s firefighting ranks. Women EMTs and paramedics comprise roughly 35% of the non-officer workforce. Above the rank of lieutenant, there are “only a handful of women who make it to captain, and even fewer to deputy chief,” said lawyer Yetta Kurland.
Boyd’s promotion — the first time in more than 150 years the FDNY will have an African-American woman as a deputy chief — is eagerly anticipated by other women in the agency. She will be the highest-ranking black woman in the entire department, said Regina Wilson, an FDNY firefighter and head of the Vulcan Society, a fraternal organization of African-American fire department employees. “It’s a proud moment for the department to have a woman of color reach such a rank and we hope there will be many more to follow,” the Brooklyn firefighter said.
To read full article, go to: FDNY veteran Tonya Boyd to become first black female deputy chief – NY Daily News