-_- it doesnt matter how many are women... What matters is if they are capable of performing the job. If they aren't, then they shouldn't have the job simply because they have a vagina... that is ridiculous.
By Alex Distefano
By Scott Snowden
By Anna Merlan
By Steve Almond
By Jena Ardell
By Jon Campbell
By Alan Scherstuhl
By Tessa Stuart
On this freezing Sunday morning in January, the New York Sports Club is the last place anyone would want to be. Outside, an icy wind whips through the deserted, snow-clotted Financial District. The gym is mostly empty, an expanse of abandoned elliptical machines, dotted with one or two diehards working at half-speed. All of them are politely trying not to stare at the main event transpiring at the center of the room: five women being run at top speed through a brutal workout by two people who won't stop yelling.
"Are you kidding me, ladies?" shouts Sarinya Srisakul. "You can't stop!"
Srisakul, in her thirties, has black hair, a cheery pink workout top, and a forbidding expression. A nine-year veteran of the New York City Fire Department, she has just come off a 24-hour shift. She and the rest of her engine spent all night pumping out a basement flooded with eight feet of water. She hasn't slept in over 30 hours. Her voice is hoarse, and getting hoarser by the minute as she hollers threats and encouragement at the five women running on the treadmills in front of her.
"Do not hold on!" she shouts at one, who quickly lets go of the treadmill bar and picks up the pace. And to another: "Are you fricking kidding me? You're walking to the end? Let's go!"
Slideshow: Women Prepare for the FDNY Entrance Exam
These women want to join the tiny sisterhood Srisakul is part of: the women of the FDNY, who make up less than one-half of 1 percent of the department's active-duty firefighters. There are 37 female firefighters in the department, alongside some 10,500 men. No two women work in the same firehouse. The most women who ever served in the department at one time is 41.
That was 30 years ago.
The obstacles for any woman — or man — hoping to join the fire service in this city are exceedingly high. Applicants to the FDNY's Fire Academy on Randall's Island must pass a written exam and the standardized Candidate Physical Ability Test (CPAT), and they must also run a mile and a half in under 13 minutes. Once they make it into the academy, they'll be known as "probies," or probationary fighters, a designation they keep for 18 months. To graduate, they have to make it through another battery of physical tests, including some that Srisakul argues blatantly discriminate against women.
But right now she's focused on getting these five women past their first hurdles and into the academy. She's joined by Thompson Plyler, a ludicrously fit, relentlessly cheerful former Marine turned physical trainer who shouts things like, "Feels great, doesn't it?" when it clearly does not.
As soon as the women finish their run, Plyler allows them a minute to cool down. Then the real workout begins: rapid-fire pushups and sit-ups, followed by circuit training, which the women do while wearing 50-pound weight vests to help simulate the 75 to 100 pounds of gear a firefighter wears on the job.
"Down, down, down!" Plyler shouts, as the women go into their pushups. "Why are you in disarray?"
"You should be able to do this!" Srisakul adds.
Almost every drill focuses on building upper-body strength, an attribute the FDNY's testing emphasizes. In one exercise, the "sled tow," Srisakul and Plyler pile 135 pounds of weight onto a platform, then attach a rope. The women have to drag the weight 20 feet across the floor, then push it back at top speed. They do deep lunges with 50-pound sacks slung across their backs. They hoist a barbell in the air, and do as many pull-ups as they can.
Meanwhile, a latecomer is ordered to hustle up and down the stairs as fast as she can, wearing her weight vest and holding two 25-pound kettlebells. She keeps slowing down. Srisakul is not having it.
"You keep going until we tell you to stop," she says flatly. "You came late. That's what you get." Nearby, the woman doing pull-ups cries out in pain around her fifth one. Most of the women get through a few pull-ups; one can't complete any.
"They're at different levels, as you can see," Plyler says. In a normal training session, he explains, he'd take it slow, working with what a particular individual could handle. But since the test doesn't change and everyone will have to lift the same weight, "the best we can do here is make sure they're doing it safely."
The workout continues for two relentless hours, until finally Plyler and Srisakul bring everyone back to the center of the room.
"How'd that feel?" Plyler asks merrily. The women give him tired thumbs-up.
"If you're falling behind, you have to put in extra effort during the week," he says, turning serious. During a real fire, he says, "If you're falling behind, you're a liability."
"Wherever you go, you will be the only girl," Srisakul adds. "Everyone will be looking at you to fail. You know that." The women all nod and file out silently. They'll be back two days later for another round.
How many women are in the NFL?" Paul Mannix asks. He's a pale guy, 50 years old, with faded freckles and rusty reddish-brown hair. On a recent morning, he's wearing a bright blue turtleneck and pounding on a sheaf of notes for emphasis. "Women in general cannot compete with men in physical competition. We'll recognize that in something as trivial as sports, but they want us to ignore it for something as important as firefighting." He snorts in irritation.
-_- it doesnt matter how many are women... What matters is if they are capable of performing the job. If they aren't, then they shouldn't have the job simply because they have a vagina... that is ridiculous.
This is a physically demanding job that even some men probably come up short at.
Putting on all of that clothing and hauling around all of those hoses and equipment is no joke--let alone trying to rescue some fat ass from a fire!!!!
The FDNY and firefighting in general is very hard. "Probie School" should also be hard. This is life and death, not some joke or social experiment. Could you in good conscious be OK with sending someone into a burning building that could not do the job? NO! When that person gives up because he / she was too tired or weak to save YOUR grandmother, I bet you would be the first in line to sue NYC and the FDNY for someone not doing their job correctly!
Women have passed probie school and do well in the firehouse, because they earned the right to be there. You have to work hard in life, we ALL don't get medals for trying or at least we shouldn't.
@villagevoice No but I will read the article.
@villagevoice not enough!!
@villagevoice prob bc it's the NFL!
Unacceptable. We have women police officers, transit workers-- you name it. Hazing and harassment is absolutely ridiculous and should be condemned at all levels. I can't understand how a respected, professional organization like the FDNY could be so backwards regarding women. This article makes the problem seem rampant and systemic. These are grown men who appear to be acting like children in a treehouse that says "No Girls Allowed". If it's really this bad, they should take effective legal action and end this nonsense once and for all. Btw, this Mannix guy sounds like he listens to Sean Hannity...
"I've never in the nine years I've been a firefighter had to run a mile and a half without stopping," Srisakul says. "If we run anywhere, it's running a quarter of a block, to a building on fire."
Quotes like this are a joke. I am a firefighter, and I can tell you that fighting a small fire is the equivalent of "running 3 miles." That is a fact. The endurance necessary to become an asset to the department, as opposed to a worthless, out-of-breath hump, can only be gotten form doing harsh, physical fitness (i.e, running/jogging, rowing, swimming, long-distance biking, cross fit-style workouts, etc.). You will not get fit on an normal exercise bike, lifting some weights, or sipping coffee at the table. So when this lady says "I've never run at a fire," she obviously doesn't think there is any need to rush when she gets to your burning house, probably stands outside watching everyone else bust their butts, and obviously is not that fit to fight a fire--as are the men I see that do the same as she at fires I respond to. They are called "outstanding" firefighters, because they are always "standing" "outside."
Political momentum is at stake here, so the men must be pushed aside and the women hired and put on the fast track for promotion. The point of the issue: firefighting must now take its turn as a progressive mechanism that produces a socialist outcome. It is not about saving property or lives; it is about social justice. All opposition is reactionary noise; must be ignored. Ability is meaningless; that old world is gone and the dinosaurs must go with it. We won the election; get over it. Surrender to the inevitable and know that social justice is just starting. Next we tax the churches, then we own your children. We won. Go live in Florida. We are going there soon.
POLICE ACTIVITY REPORT
TEAM OF ARMED JUDICIAL POLICE SENT BY NYC D.A. CYRUS VANCE JR. TO CONNECTICUT HOME OF CONTINENTAL ILLINOIS CHAIRMAN, MATT LECHNER, THREATENING LECHNER WITH ARREST FOR CALLING CBRE COMMERCIAL REAL ESTATE BROKERS "WHORES" AFTER THEY OBSTRUCTED DEAL TO REBUILD LEGENDARY WINDOWS ON THE WORLD RESTAURANT WHICH WAS DESTROYED BY TERRORISTS ON 9/11. LECHNER COUNTERS SAYING THE TERM PROPERLY DESCRIBED THE BROKERS WHO WERE OBSTRUCTING THE DEAL AND IT IS A LEGITIMATE AND NON-OBSCENE DICTIONARY WORD LISTED IN MERRIAM-WEBSTER DICTIONARY WITH STATED MEANING "A VENAL OR UNSCRUPULOUS PERSON" AND THIS ACCURATELY DESCRIBED THE CBRE BROKERS. LECHNER DEMANDS INFORMATION TO FILE COMPLAINT OF POLICE HARASSMENT. VANCE POLICE MUM.
Women are oppressed and have all the emotions; men are soulless robot scum whose dreams come true instantly thanks to our secret handshake; same old story...
One sports.....No men or womens....forget best person for the job....force half players to be women on teams....it will make sports the tops or best.
shitttt---- now, i don't know about the woman Paul Mannix knows, but, I happen to be one brolic-ass-woman. i could hose down a fire any day.
Firefighting is a man's job for obvious reasons. Strength! A fireman has to be able to carry a 160 lb victim down a ladder from a burning building. I would not be pleased to have a female firefighter sent to my building if there were a fire unless she is a Russian body builder.
The white Liberal drive for social experimentation is merely annoying in most cases. But in a field such as firefighting, it's deadly.
If firehouses are bastions of hypermasculine white male privilege, then so be it. The guys can put up pictures of John Wayne and pinup calendars on the walls, and keep back issues of Guns and Ammo in the breakroom all they want. They can "bully" women and blacks and transsexuals, refuse to accommodate the disabled, and tell off-color, racist jokes to their hearts' content.
If I am incapacitated a burning building, I don't care what my rescuer believes or thinks. He could carry a copy of "Mein Kampf" in his pocket for all I care. The only thing that would concern me at the moment would be his upper-body strength, and sheer physics.
All other considerations belong elsewhere (in the pages of the Voice, for example).
J. William Pope
Terrible article tries to dredge up controversy but really only succeeds in pointing out that women get more than a fair shake. That one candidate getting six tries to pass a very easy 12 minute 1.5 mile run is beyond ridiculous.
Why if there are so few women in the department are 3 of 5 possible candidates for chief female. That is clearly discriminatory.
@berkfdny We're rooting for you for commissioner!
Stop with the affirmative action shit. It's so fucking annoying when feminists claim it's sexism or discrimination when they simply cant do the job. Of course it's more important for them to be firefighters and say "see it told you so" than someone's life. Women aren't firefighters because they physically cannot do the job. It's the same reason they've been kept off the front lines in combat. Gender isnt always a construct.
@_mickorama @villagevoiceTake the test! You're more then welcome to.
If the physical aspect of the academy is designed to keep women out, then how did these women get on the fire department? How did the women who graduated in the last two fire academy classes graduate if it's so impossible? Funny how this is never addressed, or asked. It's simply because it isn't impossible, it's just very hard and you have to put in a lot of work for it - work that many people, women and men alike, aren't keen to do if you aren't hungry for the job.
If the abuse is so bad, then why isn't any documented? Why no pictures, videos, recordings, etc? If it's so extensive and happens frequently, it shouldn't be too hard to catch *something*. But all that is here are stories and conjecture. This is just a puff piece designed to further the UWF's agenda of more women members at any cost. It's a disgrace to women firefighters and potential women firefighters everywhere because it's basically telling them that they ARE weaker then men - that they are unable to meet the physical standards that current firefighters have met, even though we KNOW that to be untrue because women are passing the academy, even when there are men failing out! This article ranges from doubtful conjecture to outright falsehoods.
Eric crawl back under the rock your came from. You clearly have no idea what you're talking about and you yourself probably couldn't handle firefighting.
Looking at your Facebook profile pic I highly doubt it, maybe if you were in some sort of shape. Even then though I still don't think so.
BTW, it is an unavoidable fact that lesbians are the women who are most likely to make good firefighters. They are less afraid of being disapproved-of for acting male. They tend to be physically strong too.
But also, you can bet what an oppressed existence a gay male firefighter has . He cannot just tell his comrades that he is gay. He has to pretend to laugh at their homophobic jokes .
Right now there is a controversy about a gay football player whose teammates and coach touched him inappropriately and made anti-gay comments in order to humiliate and harass him.
What makes you think that firefighters don''t do the same?
Do you live in a Utopian world?
@jkovert"They can "bully" women and blacks and transsexuals, refuse to
accommodate the disabled, and tell off-color, racist jokes to their
Career big-city firefighter here. Also a straight white guy. No, that, shit is not all right. The fact that you think the only thing that it takes to be a firefighter is the ability to drag a victim out of a building (that is one of the requirements - one) is ridiculous.
We are public servants, and being openly racist/bullying black people/admiring Hitler while on the job is not acceptable. Regardless of how you feel about the rest of this stuff, the fact that you think it is all right as long as we're strong enough to carry heavy shit is absolutely idiotic.
I bet you would mind if that big strong guy decided to leave you where you are because you are gay, or maybe he would decide to leave your brother or nephew or cousin or best friend in the fire longer because he thinks he ought to rescue Christian Irish people first.
I would not argue that all women can do such a job as good as men. They cannot. But the fact is that firefighters are men in a very stereotypical environment.
The fact that they can save people and often do, is one thing and of course that is what their job is about. You are entitled to believe that a firefighter won't let his prejudices get in the way of his work. Hopefully that will be the case for your sake.
However, I personally have reservations about men in male-dominated occupations even if it is supposedly for everyone's own good.
I am lucky that I have never had to be rescued from a fire. Hopefully never.
If it comes to that hopefully the fire fighter will leave any sexist attitude of his in the fire house. Of course the firefighter is likely to be a he.
But I once read an article about a female fire fighter and about how the male fire fighters she was among had to treat a woman for an injury and it would require partially removing the patient's clothes and touching her. The males were
apparently thinking about it in a non-professional way and if the female firefighter were not there to do the task, that female patient could have stayed injured because the males did not know how to relate to a female other than in a way that they were apparently used to by looking at porn and such.
It is not such a cut and dried issue that because men are the ones who have the strength to do the job , ( and of course for that reason the fire department has a good reason to require that only men become firefighters) that that is all there is to it.
Because firefighters have to deal with rescuing people of both genders as well as of different orientations etc, then they have to avoid thinking of people in terms of gays and non-gays, "attractive women"and "non attractive women" etc
I am sure that male fire fighters "kid"each other about how they have to rescue ugly fat old women when they rather let them burn and rescue only the ones that look good.
Knowing that keeps me from instantaneously thinking like you do, that it does not matter if the firefighter wears a Nazi armband and believes in communism as long as he saves you.
He might not do as good a job.
But it might make you feel better that apparently nothing can be done about this either.
@jkovert Thank you. I'd love to see any women walk up 50 flights of stairs with all that gear strapped to them into an inferno like the FDNY did on 9/11. They have earned their "male privilege". If a few did they would probably turn around and call that discrimination and that they were seen as expendable and hence sent to their deaths.
Enough of man hating feminists who need to horn in and control every last bastion of male dominance because their piss ant ego's are damaged.
@harlemedic @berkfdnyWhat makes her qualified to be Commissioner of the largest fire department in the country? The fact that she's a woman? That she sued to get on the job? Or that she rose to the rank of Captain? Because if that is the criteria you are using then the FDNY is going to go downhill real fast.
@harlemedic @berkfdny So, in the name of "equality" you're in favor of making the community less safe? Feminists are truly evil.
@Joedee you are an asshole....also I give this article 5 of 5 Vaginas brave Anna
@Joedee Did you read the article or the headline? If you did, you would see that all of these women were able to do the job and were still harassed.
@ScottsMerkin You're a stand-up guy, Merk.
Harassment should not be tolerated. It goes beyond the issue of women not being able to do the work as good as a man.
Because the males act like jerks, it compromises efficiency even more
When in a workplace, people have to behave and think like adults, not like high schoolers who create cliques.
There should be very strong anti- sexual harassment laws everywhere.
Dam people who say that it "punishes men for being men."
@Haha Actually there was little to no evidence of harassment. The worst thing these women have had to endure is lack of suitable changing/showering facilities. The anecdote about porn was beyond ridiculous. This article searches really hard for discrimination but really fails to dredge up anything.
I do agree that firefighters should be required to pass ongoing test though. This probably wouldn't be in the female candidates favor though. Ms. Srisakul clearly wouldn't pass in her current shape.
No they were not able to do the job to the standards men have to. It took multiple times for srisakul to get through the academy, finally she just got a pass.
@Haha The feminist writer is cherry picking, when in FACT the majority of women who try to be firefighters can't lift a hose when it's filled, can't run into a burning building and pull another human being to safety, and need to routinely hydrate during operations because they cant handle the heat. Can't women just accept they dont have the same physical constitution as men for certain activities? Why must your politics and ego create dangers for the community? Maybe men should start bitching and claim that because women can give birth it's discrimination? Or perhaps physically weaker men should claim discrimination if they cant get picked for special forces?
@obscure @Haha The fact is there simply isn't any real evidence that any of these women were harassed. In fact, there is equal amount of "evidence" that a few of these women were terrible firefighters - including Srisakul, who took two tries to pass the academy and was pushed through, or Regina Wilson, who told a Lieutenant to fuck off while at a job. Any hostility they may have faced was more likely a result of this, then of the fact that they are women - guys would face the same hostility if they pulled these stunts, probably even worse.