All-Female Fire Crew is Making History in Florida

Girls can grow up to do anything!

Nov 10, 2020

(VAKS-Stock Agency / Shutterstock.com)

Today little girls grow up knowing that the world is open to them. They know that they can become astronauts, go into law enforcement, and even become firefighters; career paths that weren’t open to their mothers or grandmothers.

That’s why September 18th, 2020 was an exciting day for the Palm Beach Gardens Fire and Rescue and women everywhere . According to TODAY, it was the first day in the department’s 57-year history that a fire crew consisting of entirely women worked together. It is very poignant that it was the same day as the death of Supreme Court justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg who led the way for job equality.

The all-female crew ages range between 29 to 53 years-old. Between the women, they have been working in the fields of EMT and firefighting for almost 80 years. They never worked a shift together until the historic day when their schedules aligned.

The crew included: rescue lieutenant Krystyna Krakowski, fire medic Kelsey Krzywada, fire medic Julie Dudley, lieutenant Monica Marzullo, and driver engineer Sandi Ladewski. 

Krzywada who is a single mom told TODAY, “Those of us who are moms — our kids are very supportive," Krakowski told TODAY. "Our daughters are our biggest fans.”

Women made up 8 percent of all firefighters (volunteer and paid) in the United States in 2018 according to the National Fire Protection Association. Additionally, in the same year, only 4 percent of career firefighters were women.

A study surveyed 73 female firefighters and fire-service leaders. It showed that participants had experienced discrimination in their roles from gear not fitting to harrassment. Many felt compelled to try harder and prove themselves. 

“I think we put ourselves at risk sometimes for trying to do more than we’re capable of because of that risk of scrutiny that, you know hey, I’ll go that extra mile, I’ll pick up that extra piece of equipment. I’ll do something instead of asking for help,” said a female firefighter in the study.

But the Palm Beach Gardens Fire and Rescue is not like many other departments. In a statement given to TODAY, the department said that 11 percent of the department are women and 58 percent of the female firefighters who work at Palm Beach Gardens Fire and Rescue are at the rank of Lieutenant or higher. This is far above the national average.

Chief James N. Ippolito told ABC 11 that the stars just aligned that day when the all-female crew was scheduled. But it was made possible by , “Our progressive staffing and recruitment efforts are reflected in that moment.” The crew has served together since that historic first.

Along with a picture of the all-female crew, the fire company’s non-profit Firefighters to the Rescue, Inc.’s Facebook page posted a powerful quote from Ruth Bader Ginsburg: “To make life a little better for people less fortunate than you, that's what I think a meaningful life is. One lives not just for oneself but for one's community.”

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JACKIE SCHINDLER, CONTIRBUTOR
Jackie Schindler teaches EFL to students between the ages of 5-15. She is passionate about making English relevant, fun and memorable. She always tries to look on the bright side in every situation. She is an avid reader, writer, traveler and always on the hunt for the best iced coffee.