TAKING THE HEAT: The First Women Firefighters of New York City

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A view of the back of two firefighters in protective gear entering a light-colored brick building through an open window; smoke is wafting from the window.


From the Filmmaker

There are a lot of myths about women firefighters in general, and the first batch of New York City women firefighters specificly. These myths live in the form of stories, gossip and coded phrases ("soft test," "judicial over-reach," "feminist agenda," to name a few). I hope this film demystifies some of those myths. But more importantly, I hope we can all learn from the experiences—both good and bad—of these extraordinarily brave women.
—Bann Roy

In 1977, Brenda Berkman was in the first class of women to pass the New York City Fire Department's written exam, but when all of the qualifying women failed the physical, she brought a class-action suit against the city and the fire department—and won. With the landmark lawsuit, Berkman became a lightning rod for controversy and remained one for more than 20 years. TAKING THE HEAT: The First Women Fire Fighters of New York City is the untold story of Brenda Berkman and the first women firefighters of New York City, and how they survived in an organization that did not want them.

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ITVS Community is proud to support TAKING THE HEAT with a variety of community outreach events and materials. Get facilitators’ guides and additional resources at itvs.org >>

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