EXCLUSIVE: Faces of Four Bravest to Grace Every FDNY Firehouse to Encourage Recruiting

NY Daily News - February 07, 2017

by GINGER ADAMS OTIS

The faces of four real-life Bravest will be smiling from the facades of every firehouse in the city on Monday — part of a new recruitment tactic put in place by the Fire Department.

For the first time ever, banners will be draped across firehouses in an effort to encourage potential new recruits to sign up for the firefighter entrance exam this spring.

Filing for the test — the first step in the long process of becoming a city firefighter — opens on April 5, the Fire Department said.

The four Bravest who were chosen to be the poster faces of the FDNY are all active-duty firefighters who also serve as recruiters for the agency.

Firefighter Danny Chan, 32, who grew up in Brooklyn, works in Ladder 109 in Bay Ridge.

He joined the Marines out of high school and then briefly worked for NYC Transit when he returned to the city.

Chan said he likes to tell potential new recruits that the reason he sought out the FDNY was that he missed the “family feeling” that he had found in the military.

“It’s great to work in an environment that’s almost like family, with that brother and sister connection,” Chan said. He also counsels young candidates to consider how much a job in public service can provide in terms of personal satisfaction.

“You want a career that makes you happy, and helping people is a wonderful way to give to society,” he said.

For Lieut. Andrew Brown, 39, from Ladder 176 in Brooklyn, joining the FDNY was a dream that started when he was a kid. He witnessed a firefighter make a rescue and that was it.

“I told my mother, I’m going to do that. I think she hoped I would change my mind,” he said.

Brown said he was honored to be on the FDNY’s recruitment banner and especially pleased it would be hanging in all neighborhoods.

“This job is an option a lot of young kids don’t know about it. I say, listen, here I am, a young kid from the West Indies, and now I’m an officer in the FDNY — it’s a great career,” he said.

Firefighter Jackie-Michelle Martinez, 34, who works in Engine 275 in Queens, said she was especially pleased to have two women on the banner. It’s an honor she shares with firefighter Sarina Olmo, 38, from Ladder 29 in the Bronx.

Martinez started on her path to the FDNY after she saw a poster — a much smaller one — in 2001. She took the test and scored in the top tier and got a 100% on the physical exam — putting her on the fast track to be hired in 2002.

“There were 29 women when I came on and then that number went down but now it’s up to 58, which is great,” she said. “We need more and our message is, ‘You’ll never be alone, you can do this job, and you will always have plenty of support.’”

Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro will unveil the banners Monday morning at Engine 233/Ladder 176 on Rockaway Ave.

He said the banner was part of an “unprecedented” $10 million campaign by the FDNY that’s already lined up 87,000 potential recruits. Thirty-one percent are women and 89% people of color, two groups who are “under represented” in the ranks, Nigro said.

“With these recruitment banners visible outside all of our 217 firehouses, New Yorkers will see the tremendous opportunity and great responsibility that comes with a career as a city firefighter,” the commissioner said.