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Frequently Asked Questions

Isn’t the job dangerous?

To say “no” is misleading. The bulk of firefighting work is accomplished through coordinated teamwork, strong leadership by officers, and good communication. Our fire department has laid the foundation for all its firefighters through the greatest academy in the world, with safety for its members being of utmost concern.

In reality, there are less fires today than in times past, though it is an integral part of our job function. Nowadays, firefighters do many other tasks in addition to fighting fires, including medical emergencies, utility emergencies, fire safety and education, building inspections and more.

Firefighters are constantly helping people and because of this, it is a job that is full of honor, pride and respect.

Can women really do this job? Do they just get assigned to do paperwork?

Women have been working as firefighters for the FDNY for well over two decades. In the nation, women have been involved in both volunteer and paid forces for as long as the 1800’s.

In our department, women serve the ranks from probationary firefighter all the way up to Battalion Chief. No, women are NOT assigned to desk jobs. We get treated in the same regard as our male counterparts—from taking the entrance exams, to the training in academy, right down to the firehouse.

What about child care (or returning back to school, or my current career)?

Many of the female firefighters are mothers and find that working in the fire department is actually beneficial to child care arrangements. Because of the flexibility of the work schedule, many firefighters also have enough spare time to go back to school and maintain extra departmental employment.

What are the benefits, exactly?
From the department’s website:
• Lifelong medical coverage for you and your family;
• Growth opportunities;
• Flexible work schedules;
• Up to four weeks paid vacation per year;
• Generous pension after 20 years of service.
More information can be found at:

What is the process of getting hired to the FDNY like?
Initially, a written test is administered. After your written test is scored, extra points are awarded to: veterans, NYC residents and legacy recipients.  From these scores, a numbered list is established and candidates are then invited to take the physical test as classes in Fire Academy are necessitated. The physical test is now scored as pass/fail and is conducted soon before you would enter in academy. The test is called the Candidate Physical Abilities Test (CPAT): a common entrance exam in other parts of the country that is also used by New York State to certify its firefighters. This process can take anywhere from 2 to 4 years and for that reason, the open competitive hiring process is usually only offered every four years.

EMTs who work under civil service status for at least two years with the FDNY are eligible to be promoted to firefighters. This promotional opportunity is usually offered every two years and adheres to the same standards as the open competitive testing.

There is no height, weight or other physical attributes requirement. Women get tested with the same expectations as everyone else.

Many of you who have taken exam #6019 or #6506 in 2007 should know that because of the economic crisis, there will be no classes in the Fire Academy until 2010. Please keep in contact with us for futher information.

How can the United Women Firefighters (UWF) help me get hired?

The UWF has been conducting our training program for women for the past twenty years. We have developed a training program with classes, instructors and mentors specifically geared to help women pass the physical portion of the firefighters exam. Through our efforts, many more women have joined the ranks over the years.

When should I start training? What should I be doing?

You should be training NOW if you haven’t been! The physical portion of the firefighter’s exam has traditionally been focused on strength and agility. A couple of tools that will help you immensely in your training is the purchase of a 50 lb weight vest (you can add 10 lb weights to the traditional 40 lb weight vest and add a 35 lbs of weight in a backpack to simulate the 75lb stair climb) and the purchase of a hand grip machine. The weight vest is worn throughout the exam. One portion of the exam includes climbing a stair mill with the vest worn. The hand grip machine will help strengthen your forearm muscles, which will help you handle some of the tools on the exam. You should be doing both cardio as well as strength training. The UWF highly recommends that you focus on circuit training and upper body strength.

Wait, I have more questions!
Please, don’t hesitate to contact us at: unitedwomenfirefighters@gmail.com
We are also available to speak to young girls and boys at career days and Women History events.

We all agree: it’s the greatest job in the world.

Send mail to unitedwomenfirefighters@gmail.com with questions or comments about this web site.