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.
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