Centennial Celebration
FDNY Salutes Newest Recruits as 330 Academy Graduates Take Oath

NY Daily News - April 19, 2017

by EDGAR SANDOVAL, GINGER ADAMS OTIS

THE FDNY welcomed 304 probationary firefighters to its ranks Tuesday with a graduation ceremony that included six women — a high mark for the department.

The class was also one of the department’s most diverse overall — 37% people of color, Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro told the packed house at the Christian Cultural Center in Brooklyn.

“More women serve as firefighters today than at any point in our history,” Nigro said.

He also singled out firefighter Carl Kumpel, whose father, Kenneth Kumpel, died on 9/11.

“You’ve made your father and the city very proud,” Nigro said.

Chief of Department James Leonard congratulated the 38 military veterans in the FDNY class.

“You should be proud of your accomplishments ... From this moment 'til the day you die, you will be a New York City firefighter. Listen twice as much as you talk and you’ll learn,” Leonard said.

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THE FDNY welcomed 304 probationary firefighters to its ranks Tuesday with a graduation ceremony that included six women — a high mark for the department.

The class was also one of the department’s most diverse overall — 37% people of color, Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro told the packed house at the Christian Cultural Center in Brooklyn.

“More women serve as firefighters today than at any point in our history,” Nigro said.

He also singled out firefighter Carl Kumpel, whose father, Kenneth Kumpel, died on 9/11.

FDNY probies give blood, join organ donor program to save lives “You’ve made your father and the city very proud,” Nigro said.

Chief of Department James Leonard congratulated the 38 military veterans in the FDNY class.

“You should be proud of your accomplishments ... From this moment 'til the day you die, you will be a New York City firefighter. Listen twice as much as you talk and you’ll learn,” Leonard said.

The class valedictorian, Thomas Butler, said he couldn’t believe his good luck the day he got his notice of acceptance.

“I was told that I hit the lottery. Well, I think we all hit the lottery. I have dreamed of being a New York City firefighter my entire life. We all worked hard. The hard work is far from over,” the valedictorian said.

Having six women in one class was a milestone the FDNY hasn’t seen since 1982, when women first broke into the all-male firehouses.

“I’ve been training for this for the last 10 years. You just have to want it and you can do it,” said probie Cassandra Colletti of Jackson Heights.

Her colleagues shared her optimism.

“I’m super happy to be part of a big family. I'm eager to start,” said Carla Mendoza of Inwood.

Nicole Zanatta of Staten Island said she felt welcome right away.

“I could not have done it without the women next to me,” Zanatta said.

All the women said to took determination to get through the grueling training.

“It was challenging for everyone. I’m proud of myself and everyone who made it,” said Mickea Pickney of Queens.

A beaming Constance Fripp of Corona, Queens, said the FDNY graduation ceremony made it all worthwhile.

“It feels amazing. I feel happy. That’s all I got,” the smiling firefighter said.

“We can do it!” added fellow firefighter Shannon Maloney of Long Island.

There are now 63 women firefighters and officers in the FDNY — roughly .6% of the 10,000 strong force.

The women are not given a different physical entrance exam and are not given a different training program at the Randall’s Island Fire Academy, the department stressed.

With exam filing currently open for the next round of FDNY hiring, United Women Firefighters will host an open house for interested applicants on April 23, said UWF president Sarinya Srisakul.

“I am proud of the women graduating today from fire academy. It is amazing to see them achieve this goal through all their hard work and ambition,” firefighter Srisakul.

“The landscape of the FDNY is surely but slowly changing through the addition of these new women. I hope we keep seeing even more strides with the new exam on the horizon,” she said.