One of the first females in the FDNY inspires children’s book
One of the first-ever females to join the FDNY is now inspiring a new generation of women.
Brenda Berkman was in law school when the FDNY first started accepting female applicants in 1977.
“I thought ‘perfect, I get to help my community and do these things, I’m going to apply,’” Berkman says. “Well then, of course, the rest is history. The New York City Fire Department had changed the entry level exams and made it what the guy called ‘the hardest exam ever written for anything.’”
None of the 90 women who took the test passed the physical portion, so Berkman successfully sued for a fairer exam.
She then became among the first group of women to be part of the department, serving at firehouses in Brooklyn and Manhattan.
Berkman rose through the ranks to captain before retiring.
“Just realizing that this work was being done as I was growing up,” Berkman says. “You know, people are fighting the fight still, and I’m completely oblivious to it.”
Author Jessica Rinker learned of Berkman’s story and wrote a children’s book about it called “Send a Girl.”
Rinker wants the book to spread messages of resilience, inclusion and inspiration
“We want little girls and little boys to grow up challenging stereotypes and not be afraid to follow their dreams just because they have a few barriers that they have to overcome,” Rinker says.
“Send A Girl” is available for purchase at local bookstores and online.