Her Story: Molly Wiliams

The very first female firefighter in the United States was Black and her name was Molly Williams. She was enslaved in New York where she became a member of Oceanus Engine Company #11 in 1815.

Miss Molly Williams was tough, brave and strong. When a blizzard hit New York City in 1818 and all the male volunteer firefighters were out with influenza, it was Molly that pulled the pumper through the city to put out fires.

New York Fire Department didn’t have another female firefighter for 146 years after Williams. It took the work of Brenda Berkman and a group of 40 women in a landmark discrimination lawsuit to earn women a place in fire stations across our country.

We salute Molly Williams and all the other female firefighters that risk their lives to save others.

Links for Learning:

Molly, by Golly!: The Legend of Molly Williams, America’s First Female Firefighter


Molly Williams, a black woman and a slave, fought fires years before the FDNY was formed was a pioneer for fellow female smoke-eaters – NY Daily News

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About The Author


Mother, Photographer, Wisecracker.... not necessarily in that order.


  1. i love this its not saying because your black you cant do things yes i am a white girl but i thinks blacks have right too i know they do i love how it says that black girls and boys can achive anything we can .

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