If Mylan Denerstein becomes the FDNY's new commissioner, the first blazes she'll have to put out will likely involve sexism and racism -- over her own appointment.
The 42-year-old former federal prosecutor is on the short list to be named the city's next fire commissioner -- leading to the possibility she would be both the first woman and first African-American to hold the job.
Some department insiders worried that there may be old-boy elements who would have trouble accepting a woman in charge of the FDNY, where only 33 out of 11,300 firefighters are female.
"You know how the rank and file feel about women historically," said a department source. "There are still elements of misogyny."
Others said her race also could be an issue on a force where only 3 percent of its members are black and that is now fighting a class-action, racial-discrimination lawsuit.
Still others would resent that yet another nonfirefighter was in charge, after seven years of rule by Nicholas Scoppetta, who, like Denerstein, is a lawyer.
"There are people who will go nuts if she is the fire commissioner," the source said. "She's not a fireman."
One Queens firefighter told The Post: "Some guys will feel that, no matter how skilled and smart she is, they're looking to make a political statement because she's a woman and black.
"If they make a political decision to deflect criticism of a force that's perceived to be white and male-dominated, it's pretty crappy."
A firefighter in Brooklyn added: "I'm not happy about it. We've had chiefs who are firefighters, and we've had chiefs who weren't. But the mayor is going to do what he wants to do."
On a Web site frequented by firefighters, one comment read, "Please, no, dear God," to Denerstein's possible commission.
Joining Denerstein on the short list is at least one former firefighter, Chief of Department Salvatore Cassano.
While Denerstein was never a smoke eater, she is a department veteran. She served from 2003 to 2006 as the deputy commissioner for legal affairs. The job made her, in effect, the FDNY's top disciplinarian.
Some insiders bristled at some of the tough moves she made to crack down on firefighter misbehavior. These included naming a former prosecutor to head the Trials Department -- the FDNY's disciplinary wing -- and leading a zero-tolerance crackdown on drug use.
Some department sources feel this experience will serve her well. While other rank-and-file members may be skeptical of her and her background, many of the FDNY's top brass already know and respect her.
"I think she'll do fine," said one veteran official. "Everyone likes her. She was very highly regarded when she was here."
Another source noted that there would be "no learning curve" because she has no FDNY experience.
Her possible appointment came as several City Council members and reps from organizations for black and Hispanic Bravest were set to hold a press conference today to push for legislation that would give extra credit on the firefighter exam to those candidates who graduated from a city high school.
"I believe she will have no trouble," added Alexander Hagen, president of the Uniformed Fire Officer's Association. "From what I understand, she is very intelligent and a pleasure to be around."
Additional reporting by Kevin Fasick, Todd Venezia and Philip Messing