The FDNY is giving women a taste of the job, and as NY1's Erin Clarke reports, it's part of an effort to recruit more females to the department.
About 80 young women scaled walls, doused a flaming car and took part in other drills at FDNY's Women's History Month Outreach Event.
It's goal — to recruit more women to the department.
FDNY has just 49 female firefighters — about half a percent of the department and just 8 more than there were in 1982 when Brenda Berkman won a lawsuit that resulted in the first women joining the department.
"It's a slow road that we hope the recruitment campaign will succeed in encouraging large numbers of capable young women," said Berkman a retired FDNY Captain.
"We could do a lot better than that," said Sarinya Srisakul, President of United Women Firefighters. "We need to be a leader in diversity in fire departments."
While firefighting has been viewed as a "boys only" club, those on the job say the gender disparity is not the only reason.
"The lack of training," said Jackie Martinez, Women Outreach Coordinator for the department. "Women don't know that they have to train for this job, that it's a physically strenuous exam."
Many do well on the written test, but aren't prepared for the physical portion, or what comes after — fire academy.
"It's like 18 very long weeks," said Firefighter Sheliz Salcedo. "Depending on if you're in the summer or winter, it could be very hot, very cold. It's grueling. It's arduous."
The United Women Firefighters wants to make sure women who want to join the department are prepared, so the group provides a free training program at New York Sports Club two to three times a week year round.
It also encouraged women from various schools and groups across the city to come to the academy Saturday and try their hand at firefighting.
There's hands on activities designed to give women a taste of what training to be a firefighter is about before they enter the academy.
"I think it's necessary," said Kelsey Ford, who participated Saturday. "I don't think that women should ever feel deterred because something is physical."
The plus-side— some of the firefighters leading these exercises were in these young women's shoes just last year.
The FDNY hopes they can inspire a new generation to join and make the department more diverse.