FDNY Allows Woman Who Failed Functional Skills Test To Become Firefighter

Tara Dodrill

The FDNY has allowed a woman who failed the mandatory firefighter fitness test to join the department for the very first time. Rebecca Wax, 33, will graduate from the New York City Fire Academy without having successfully completed the Functional Skills Training Test. Firefighters, both male and female, are angry about the Wax graduation.

Rebecca Wax failed the physically grueling Functional Skills Training Test (FST) that includes completing an obstacle course in full gear with a limited air supply. FDNY members and firefighters from around the country have expressed concerned that lowering graduation standards will pose life-threatening consequences for both firefighters and the public.

"We're being asked to go into a fire with someone who isn't 100 percent qualified," a FDNY source told the New York Post. "Our job is a team effort. If there's a weak link in the chain, either civilians or our members can die."

Why the de Blasio administration is pushing for the recruitment of women specifically remains unknown. A total of 44 of the FDNY's 10,500 members are reportedly female. There are substantially fewer women attempting to become firefighters, but perhaps the career choice is just simply more appealing to men.

Two women in the same FDNY fire academy class as Wax reportedly passed the FST class "with flying colors."

"They're [women in fire academy] kicking butt. They're doing better than 50 percent of the class," the New York Post FDNY source added. "When they get assigned to a firehouse, they'll be welcomed with open arms because they've done what everyone else has gone through."

Female firefighters have also registered their anger about Rebecca Wax being allowed to graduate without passing the Functional Skills Training Test, according to the NYC firefighter who spoke with the local newspaper.

"A lot of the girls in the field are p****d because they feel like they're getting lumped into the same category of a female getting special treatment and not meeting the same standards as the males, it devalues what the women in the field have accomplished. She's [Rebecca Wax] in the best shape of her life, and it's still not good enough."

Rebecca Wax reportedly attempted to complete the FDNY FST test multiple times over her 18 weeks of firefighter training. Wax allegedly finished the Functional Skills Training Test just once, and it took her more than 22 minutes to do so.

New York City Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro stated last year during a city council hearing on the FDNY female recruitment efforts that he had changed FST requirements to lower obstacles.

"We still grade the people. You can still fail it if you go beyond the time, but you're not automatically failed from the program," Nigro said. Under the new hiring policy, probationary firefighters must earn at least 75 percent on the academics, hands-on skills, and physical fitness tests. FDNY officials determined that because Wax allegedly had such a high score on her academics, it "offset" her FST test "deficiency."

Rebeca Wax has reportedly worked as a civilian FDNY staffer since 2009, most recently as a community coordinator, making $52,338 a year.

What do you think about the FDNY allowing a woman to become a firefighter after failing the Functional Skills Training Test?

[Image via: Shutterstock.com]