Who wants competent firefighters anyway?

FDNY drops physical test requirement amid low female hiring rate

Next up at 9: Med schools stop requiring anatomy amid reports that women found it “icky”. What do you even say about this? It’s endangering the general public and especially firefighters who are not fit enough to “carry a tire 8 feet, raise a ladder up a wall and breach a hole in a ceiling”. Do those sound like unreasonable things to ask of our firefighters? To me, they don’t. In fact if you cannot carry a tire for 8 measly feet I’m pretty sure you can’t lift me if I’m unconscious from smoke inhalation. According to our lord and savior Google a tire weighs approximately 20 pounds and a truck tire comes in at a whopping 100. I’m not a large person. I’m 145 pounds. You should be able to carry me if you are expected to save my life. You should be able to put a ladder up against a window if you are a firefighter anywhere, but especially in a city with tons of tall buildings.

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This is not only dangerous to the public, it’s infantilizing toward women. Basically the standard was set at a totally reasonable (arguably rather low) level and the abolition of the physical test requirement says “you as a gender are probably incapable of doing the same job as men so we are going to baby you through it.” Now of course the (flawed) counter-argument to this would be “but the test is the major factor which inhibits women from joining the department”. First of all, if my life is on the line, I’m okay with that. Second of all, let’s quote some statistics from the article…

“While 95 percent of men pass the FDNY’s demanding physical test, only 57 percent of women manage to get through.”

“…the 10,500-member force including just 44 women”

Alright so basically if equal numbers of men and women try to join the academy, and the majority of women pass the test, then how is the force made up of less than half a percent of women? Answer:  it’s not the testing that is keeping women down, it’s probably that less women than men are applying. If they are being deterred from applying by a physical fitness test, then let’s ask ourselves “Do we want a force made up of people who are so scared of doing physical activity that they give up and don’t try?” Honestly, this scenario sounds kind of silly to me.

Obviously, not all women are afraid of physical fitness, actually pretty much all of the women I know aren’t. Thus, my argument is that the ridiculous ratio of men to women in FDNY has literally nothing to do with this physical fitness test and abolishing it is asinine. Maybe it has something to do with established gender roles. Men are cast as the heroes. They also get killed off before the movie ends.

Stop infantilizing women. Stop putting the public at risk in exchange for PR. Stop putting rookie firefighters at higher risk.

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