Tag: black female firefighters

Tiffanye Wesley Becomes Northern Virginia’s 1st African-American Female Battalion Chief

Tiffanye Wesley (Photo courtesy Arlington Fire Department)

via wtop.com

Almost 24 years after she answered a radio ad seeking to recruit new firefighters, Tiffanye Wesley has been selected as Arlington, VA’s southern battalion chief.

The county’s fire department tapped her for the post Sunday (Sept. 2), making her both Arlington and Northern Virginia’s first African-American female battalion chief.

There are two battalions in the Arlington Fire Department, divided between north and south, with each encompassing five stations. Wesley is chief of the southern battalion, coordinating operations not only between the five stations but with partner agencies across Arlington, Alexandria and Fairfax.

“If there is a fire call, I’m in charge of that call,” said Wesley. “My job is to ensure everyone goes home safely.”

When Wesley first joined the Arlington Fire Department, she said she walked in the door with no expectations. She’d never known any firefighters or been into a fire house, and said she failed the physical ability tests twice, but she kept training and going back to try again.

Before being selected as battalion chief, Wesley was commander of the Crystal City station, Arlington’s largest and one of its busiest stations. Wesley stepped into the battalion chief role temporarily in 2016, which she said gave her an opportunity to get to know the other stations in the battalion.

“Every station is different,” said Wesley. “My goal is to go sit down with the officers and let them know up front what [my] expectations are and to give me theirs. I believe, as long as you set up right up front what you expect, it makes it easier. The problem comes in when you don’t know what your leader expects, then you tend to fall back and do whatever you want to do.”

Currently, Wesley says the department is also awaiting news of who will replace Fire Chief James Bonzano.

“Right now, the department is looking for a new fire chief,” said Wesley. “Everyone is in a holding pattern, we’re not sure who that person will be, whether they’re from inside the department or someone totally new, we will have to learn that person; their ideals and expectations.”

As Wesley settles into her new role as battalion chief, she says the outpouring of support from friends and followers of her active social media accounts has been overwhelming. Among the most interesting was a call from a fire chief in Nigeria congratulating her on the promotion.

“My promotion was not just for me, it’s for everyone who has watched me, who has been sitting back and passed over and doubted their own self, whose doubted it would ever happen,” said Wesley. “It’s all for those people. Just keep doing what you’re doing. Don’t give up.”

Source: https://wtop.com/arlington/2018/09/acfd-taps-northern-virginias-1st-african-american-female-battalion-chief/

Tonya Boyd to Become FDNY’s 1st Black Female Deputy Chief

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

Regina Wilson Chosen as 1st Female President of 75 Year-Old Vulcan Society of Black Firefighters

FDNY firefighter Regina Wilson has been elected as the first female president of the Vulcan Society of Black Firefighters.
FDNY firefighter Regina Wilson has been elected as the first female president of the Vulcan Society of Black Firefighters.

For the first time in its 75-year history, the Vulcan Society of Black Firefighters has elected a female president.  Regina Wilson’s new role is the latest achievement for the pioneering firefighter from Brooklyn who joined the FDNY in 1999.  “Being named president of such a wonderful organization is somewhat surreal,” Wilson, 45, told the Daily News on Friday.

A graduate of Tilden High School, Wilson joined the department as only its 12th African-American woman.  It was a job she never imagined holding.

Wilson was working as an accountant at a utility company when she attended a job fair at the Javits Center. It was there that members of the Vulcan Society recruited her to join the FDNY.  “I didn’t even think it was something that I could do,” Wilson said.

She’s now based out of Engine 219 in Park Slope and also works as an instructor at the Fire Academy on Randalls Island.  “It’s a full circle experience for me,” said Wilson, of Crown Heights.

“I have the opportunity to help and to mold and nurture people that are trying to be firefighters.”

Wilson, seen with fellow graduates at Brooklyn College, was the only woman in her class and the 12th African-American woman to join the FDNY when she entered the department in 1999.  (DAVID HANDSCHUH/NEW YORK DAILY NEWS)
Wilson, seen with fellow graduates at Brooklyn College, was the only woman in her class and the 12th African-American woman to join the FDNY when she entered the department in 1999. (DAVID HANDSCHUH/NEW YORK DAILY NEWS)

After 16 years in the department, Wilson said she’s finally seeing a concerted push to make it more inclusive.

“With the new administration, I, for the first time, feel hopeful,” Wilson said.

The FDNY, which was successfully sued by the Vulcan Society for discrimination last year, still has a long way to go.

Wilson remains one of only 10 African-African women on a force of more than 10,000 firefighters and officers, according to the Vulcan Society.

Former Vulcan Society President John Coombs hailed Wilson’s election as a historic moment for an organization dedicated to promoting diversity.  “We stand for what we fight for, which is inclusion and diversity in the FDNY,” Coombs said.

article by Rich Schapiro via nydailynews.com

Tracey Lewis 1st Black Woman Promoted to FDNY Lieutenant in 12 Years

Screen Shot 2014-09-20 at 2.20.15 PM

The New York City Fire Department promoted a black woman to the rank of lieutenant for the first time in 12 years.  Tracey Lewis was promoted Wednesday. She’s the second-ever black female firefighter to be promoted to lieutenant in the department’s history.

Lewis has been a firefighter for 17 years, starting off as a cadet. She was an emergency medical technician and later worked on Engine 222 in Bedford-Stuyvesant Brooklyn.


There are only nine black women firefighters at the FDNY. There are about 40 women total at the department of nearly 10,400 people. The department said it has promoted three women to lieutenant and one to captain this year.

Ella McNair was the first black woman promoted to rank of lieutenant in 2002.

article via nbcnewyork.com

Tara Walker Sworn in as Jersey City’s First Black Woman Firefighter

Jersey City Firefighter Tara Walker (Photo Credit: Reena Rose Sibayan)

Tara Walker, 31, a high school girls basketball legend who scored 2,376 points in her Marist High School career, is now one of six women in the Jersey City Fire Department, and the first black female firefighter in the department’s 143-year history.

The diverse class includes two black men, four Hispanic men and an Asian man, city officials pointed out on Monday.

“Now today is really a great day because if you look at the 26 men and women sitting to my right, to your left, it really represents everything that is great about Jersey City,” Jersey City Mayor Steve Fulop said at the ceremony. “It is a diverse class, it is a young class, it is a motivated class, it is a class of people that have dedicated and lived their lives here in Jersey City.”

The new class brings the number of Jersey City firefighters to 557. City officials said that 47 members have been hired since Fulop took office.

RELATED: Bronx Firefighter Danae Mines Becomes 1st Woman Featured In FDNY Calendar of Heroes

“Waited for it since I was a kid,” said Anthony Silleto, 26, after he was sworn in. “It’s great.”

Kevin Ramirez, 28, said he’s excited to become a part of the department and serve Jersey City.

“It’s a wonderful feeling, a great feeling,” he said. “We’ve lived our whole lives here. I’m happy, I’m excited to become a part of it and meet the rest of the family.”

The hiring of the firefighters was made possible by funds from a $6.9 million federal Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) grant. The grant is expected to fund up to 49 new firefighters in total.

The 26 firefighters trained for eight weeks at the Morris County Public Safety Training Academy.

article via forharriet.com and nj.com

Bronx Firefighter Danae Mines Becomes 1st Woman Featured In FDNY Calendar of Heroes


Danae Mines is an 11-year veteran with the FDNY and is one of New York City’s few female firefighters. Next March, Mines will also be the first woman the first woman featured in the FDNY Calendar of Heroes, even though she was initially told the calendar honor was only for men.

“I was told that it was all guys,” Mines, who is assigned to Engine Co. 60 in the South Bronx, told the Daily News.  “They said if I made it in the calendar, I would look like a pinup girl.”

But that didn’t stop her from attending an open call and breaking the gender barriers.  “I wasn’t going to let anyone tell me I couldn’t do what I wanted to do,” she said. “I was determined.”

Mines was surrounded by 100 men at the audition, and admits to feeling intimidated.  “I was a little scared,” said Mines. “I was the only female.”

Mines’ dreams of becoming a firefighter began when she was just 10 years old after one of the city’s Bravest visited her school to talk about the job.  But her family told her that she should consider another career, because only men joined the FDNY.  “I had absolutely no support from my family when I wanted to come on the job,” she said.

Mines became an EMT and, despite her family’s requests, accepted a promotion to become a firefighter in 2003. And she hasn’t been able to stop her relatives from gloating about her ever since.  “Once I graduated (from the Fire Academy), it was the complete opposite,” she said. “They could not stop bragging.”

Despite being one of 41 women firefighters in the department, Mines said she’s faced with no more challenges than any other man on the job.  Mines didn’t end up looking like a pin-up model, as you can tell from the photo. The proceeds from the calendar goes directly to the FDNY Foundation to promote fire safety education for city residents, as well as new equipment for the firehouses. But Mines said she had a bigger reason in doing the calendar.

“I wanted my picture in the calendar so that young girls and young women can see me and know that they can do this job,” she said.

article via clutchmagonline.com