NYFD Lowers Entry Standards So Women Can Graduate And The Fire Dept. Can Avoid Discrimination Lawsuits
[guest post by Dana]
The New York Fire Dept. allowed a female to graduate from the Fire Academy who could not pass the critical Functional Skills Training test. As of tomorrow, Rebecca Wax will be assigned to a firehouse and assume the duties of a fireman.
Passing the FST test is critical to the safety of firemen and those they rescue:
In the FST exam, probies must breathe through a mask attached to an air tank while carrying up to 50 pounds of gear.
They must climb six flights of stairs, stretch hose lines, raise ladders, perform tasks that simulate breaking doors and pulling down ceilings, and drag dummies through tunnels with no visibility.
They must complete the course in 17 minutes, 50 seconds or less.
Despite many attempts over the Fire Academy’s 18-week training course, Wax completed the test just once — but it took her more than 22 minutes, the source said.
In numerous tries, Wax struggled and was too slow. While fit probies finish with air left in their tanks, she had to stop when hers ran out, the source added.
“She’s in the best shape of her life, and it’s still not good enough,” he said.
You know, sometimes the answer is just no, you don’t get to because you are not good enough and therefore do not qualify. And that should be okay. Because it’s not always about you. Especially in this line of work.
The fact that Ms. Wax feels she is entitled to be a firefighter is evidenced by her lack of concern for those she puts at risk because of her inadqueacy and her decision not to voluntarily step down.
So allowances were made:
Wax had a high grade-point average on her academics, which officials determined offset her FST deficiency, the insider said.
Last December, Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro told a City Council hearing on the FDNY’s efforts to recruit women that he had changed FST requirements to lower obstacles.
“We still grade the people. You can still fail it if you go beyond the time, but you’re not automatically failed from the program,” he said.
He also indicated he wanted to act before a possible sex discrimination lawsuit after the city paid $98 million to settle a lawsuit that accused the FDNY of discriminating against minorities.
“We must no longer wait for a judge’s ruling to tell us what fairness means,” Nigro said.
And of course, the whole FST test is UNFAIR because discrimination:
United Women Firefighters, an organization of FDNY women, objects to the FST test, contending it unfairly bars females.
The FST requires a much higher level of fitness than the Candidate Physical Ability Test, which applicants must pass to enter the academy.
Experts say the FST mirrors the demands of the job, training would-be firefighters to work in stressful environments while conserving their air supply.
Wax had previously received another break to join the FDNY after pleading in June 2011 for a City Council bill that raised the age limit from 29 to 35 for applicants like her who first took the entrance exam in 2007. A hiring freeze imposed by federal Judge Nicholas Garaufis in the discrimination suit put them in limbo.
“I want nothing more than to be a New York City firefighter,” Wax, then 29, had testified at a hearing.
Yeah, well I wanted to be a number of things in life, too, but for one reason or another, things didn’t work out the way I WANTED, and you know what, IT WAS OKAY. I ended up with a terrific and fulfilling life anyway. This is what being an adult is: accepting no for an answer when one is unqualified to do the very thing they dream of, and moving on to something else and making a go of it. And disappointment? Well it can make you a better, stronger and more resilient individual if you have the determination and wherewithal to carry that 50 pound weight of unfulfilled dreams and climb those six flights of stairs to catch a new vision for your life. Chuck that weight, breathe the clean air of hope, and let it propel you forward.