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

Women Firefighters Timeline

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In Their Own Words

Independent Lens asked some of the women of the New York City Fire Department to tell us more about the life of a female firefighter, including what inspires them, how they stay in shape and what advice they would offer to young women interested in the firefighting profession.


Brenda Berkman, a Caucasian woman with short salt-and-pepper hair; the collar of her dark jacket is upturned; she looks out to the left of the frame with determined expression. Name: Brenda Berkman
Age: 54
Rank: Captain
Years on the job: 23+
Home station: Engine 239, Brooklyn
Read Brenda Berkman's Q&A »

Close up of Kinga Mielnik, a Caucasian woman with blue eyes and short light brown hair; she wears a blue uniform and smiles.


Name: Kinga Mielnik
Age: 27
Rank: Firefighter
Years on the job: 2
Home station: E 282
Read Kinga Mielnik’s Q&A »

Photo of Patricia Fitzpatrick, a Caucasian woman with her dark hair pulled back; she wears a burgundy tank and smiles; shadows fall across her face. Name: Patricia “Cubby” Fitzpatrick
Age: 47
Rank: Retired: Line of duty injury 1998
Years on the job: 23+
Home station: Assigned to Engine 44; Retired from Ladder 16
Read Cubby Fitzpatrick’s Q&A »

Close up of Anna Schermerhorn-Collins, a Caucasian woman with close-cropped dark blonde hair; she is wears a dark jacket over her blue uniform and smiles warmly. Name: Anna Schermerhorn-Collins
Age: 40
Rank: Lieutenant
Years on the job: 9 1/2
Home station: North Bronx (no particular station)
Read Anna Schermerhorn-Collins’ Q&A »


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