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

Women Firefighters Timeline

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Kinga Mielnik

Close-up of Kinga Mielnik, 27 years old, with blue eyes; her shoulder-length dirty blonde hair is straight and parted on the right; she wears her blue firefighting uniform over a white T-shirt and smiles.

What are the most and least appealing things about being a woman firefighter?

Most appealing: you are rare and therefore a role model. Also, being a female in the firehouse adds a certain type of flavor, just like anyone else who's different. Least appealing: knowing that there are still guys on the job that don't want to work with a female, as well as people in this world.

Age: 27
Years on the job: 2
Rank: Firefighter
Home station: E 282

Why did you choose to become a firefighter?

Exciting and adventurous job and city job benefits. This job also compliments my life style—I can still do everything I want to like go to school and travel.

What were the most difficult aspects of the tests to become a firefighter?

Dedication during the training, and building up the confidence to go in knowing you can beat the test. Physically, the ceiling pull-down.

How do you stay in shape—mentally and physically—for your job?

I work out at the gym or occasionally at work. I enjoy biking and other outdoor stuff.

What do your family members/friends think of what you did as a firefighter?

They love it and they worry about me, and my sister [Daiana, who is also a firefighter].

Would you encourage young girls to become firefighters? What advice could you offer?

It is an absolutely great job. As they say, it’s the best-kept secret. Advice? As my sister once said, "You don't have to be Superman to be on this job."

Read Anna Schermerhorn-Collins’ Q&A >>

Find resources for becoming a firefighter >>

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