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

Women Firefighters Timeline


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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