FDNY Swears in First Openly Gay, First Female Chaplain
The New York Fire Department is a historically homogeneous force: until 1977, the department banned women from service. And when women like Brenda Berkman finally won the right to sign up, they were bullied.
Finally, that history is changing. This year, a record-breaking 44 women serve among the city’s force of about 10,500 uniformed firefighters. And on Tuesday, the first openly gay and first female chaplain will be sworn in as chaplain of the NYFD.
Reverand Ann Kansfield comes from a family of firefighters, and currently ministers the Greenpoint Reformed Church. She will join seven other chaplains in the Fire Department, six Christian and one Jewish.
According to the New York Times, chaplains, “provide counseling to firefighters and department personnel; they perform blessings and invocations; and they assist with notifying families in the rare instances when a firefighter is killed in a line of duty.”
Kansfield sees the larger picture as she assumes her position in the FDNY:
“If I can be part of the effort to diversify the great firefighting force in the greatest city in the world,” she said, “well that’s a great thing and I’m honored to be a part of that force.”