Firefighters stuck hoping for the best; woman can’t pass fitness test, but can join anyway

This could be a matter of life and death.

For the first time ever the New York City Fire Department will allow someone who failed its physical fitness test to join its ranks.

Rebecca Wax, 33, is scheduled to graduate from the Fire Academy Tuesday despite having failed the Functional Skills Training test, the New York Post reported.

“They’re going to allow the first person to graduate without passing because this administration has lowered the standard,” an insider told the Post.

Some firefighters have expressed concerns for safety.

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

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s administration has been pressuring the department to hire more woman and, according to the source, two other women who passed their tests will be joining Wax on the force come Tuesday.

“They’re kicking butt. They’re doing better than 50 percent of the class,” the insider told the Post. “When they get assigned to a firehouse, they’ll be welcomed with open arms because they’ve done what everyone else has gone through.”

Other female firefighters are equally angered by the lowering of standards.

“A lot of the girls in the field are pissed 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,” the insider said. “It devalues what the women in the field have accomplished.”

According to the Post the recruits are tested as follows.

They must climb six flights of stairs, stretch hose lines, raise ladders, perform tasks that simulate breaking doors and pulling down ceilings, and drag dummies through tunnels with no visibility.

They must complete the course in 17 minutes, 50 seconds or less.

Sources told the Post Wax failed the test numerous times and only completed the course once and it took more than 20 minutes.

“She’s in the best shape of her life, and it’s still not good enough,” the source said.

This is the second break Wax has gotten in her quest to be a firefighter.

Wax argued for a City Council bill in 2011 that raised the age limit for new recruits from 29 to 35 for applicants who took the entrance exam for the first time in 2007.

“I want nothing more than to be a New York City firefighter,” Wax, who was 29 at the time, said.

The Post caught up with her Friday but she refused to comment as did New York City Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro who spoke to the Post at an event marking the department’s 150th anniversary at a Midtown firehouse Saturday.

“Every one of our 305 probies have passed and will be graduating Tuesday,” he said while refusing to address Wax’s physical fitness test failure. “She has met the requirements.”

Because in Liberal Land, everyone gets a trophy.

Carmine Sabia

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