Female Firefighter Conditionally Graduated And Allowed Six Times To Pass Physical Requirements

FDNYflagThere is a controversy in the New York fire department where FDNY candidate Wendy Tapia will be allowed to graduate despite failed the physical test to become a firefighter six times. Adding to the controversy, Lt. Elizabeth Osgood, who objected to Tapia’s special treatment, was allegedly barred from promotion for months. Tania’s treatment has raised objections that the FDNY is trying to avoid a gender discrimination lawsuit after it was sued successfully for $98 million for racial discrimination.

Tapia was conditionally graduated on May 17, 2013 and was allowed five more chances to run the required 1.5 miles in 12 minutes or less.

United Women Firefighters, a group of active and retired FDNY women, campaigned to get Tapia extra times to pass the exam. They have insisted that she was overtrained and that her criticism amounts to “hazing.” Tapia, 34, was assigned to ­Engine No. 316 in East Elm­hurst, Queens, but never worked a shift. She blamed the first failure on a foot injury but then failed the test five more times.

I expect many will now argue that the FDNY cannot now refuse to conditionally graduate men and refuse the times six Mulligans on testing criteria without being guilty of gender discrimination against males.

Over the years, various written exams and degree requirements have been dropped for police and firefighters as discriminatory. However, physical tests have been treated as objective and essential not just for public safety but the safety of officers and firefighters (and their comrades) in dangerous circumstances. The question is whether litigation pressures are placing units at risk in relaxing physical strength requirements. The same controversy has been raging in the military this year.

What do you think about allowing candidates more chances and conditional graduation to increase the numbers of women firefighters?

94 thoughts on “Female Firefighter Conditionally Graduated And Allowed Six Times To Pass Physical Requirements”

  1. “He would have been willing to shoot people like Nick.” I read people for a living. This is a veiled threat by the fly boy. I have caught him lying previously, now he is threatening violence by proxy. He is an angry man.

    1. Only an angry and ignorant person could come up with violence by proxy to try and avoid the FACTS about Orwell. He was rather astonished that Americans on the right such as Nick could be fans of his, while the English audience knew his politics of being on the far left. I simply point out the extreme difference Orwell would have with Nick and his ilk, and that in the context of the Spanish Civil War he would have been glad to put a bullet in him. Don’t take my word for it, just read Homage to Catalonia and figure it out yourselves.

      As for liberals, Nick would have been on the opposite side of the Spanish war since most liberals at the time supported the Republic. They were a very diverse bunch too and I was surprised to see some well known folks in aviation supporting the Republic. After the fascists won, they went on to recruit pilots for the RAF and the Eagle squadron in WWII well before the US became involved. The term that the professional right wing haters used to vilify these folks, was a pre-mature anti-fascist.

  2. Nick Obviously does not know Orwell since he cannot use the quote accurately and does not know that to his dying day, Orwell was a Marxist revolutionary communist. He would have been willing to shoot people like Nick in any revolution since he was actively shooting such folks in the Spanish Civil War and was severely wounded. I suggest folks read his greatest work, Homage to Catalonia which is about his war time experiences in Spain.

  3. randyjet:

    The sad reality of AA and similar programs is that it produces incentives for quotas and lower standards.

    I am firmly in favor of equal opportunity , not quotas or lowered standards. More men than women want to be cops, and more women than men want to be elementary school teachers. I passionately oppose efforts to try to artificially force the averages to more closely resemble the population of 50/50. But as it currently stands, police departments are so eager to fill the ranks with women and minorities for “diversity”, that they accept applicants with a minuscule amount of interest, overlooking more qualified and passionate candidates merely to make the numbers look good.

    I recall when I went to college, a professor friend of mine lamented that he had to teach his microbio class two ways – one for those who got here on their own merits, and one for the AA recipients, who were completely lost. It was a waste of time for all involved. A better approach would have been early intervention to make sure kids got tutors, safe after school programs, and drop out prevention, so they graduate high school college ready, rather than lower the bar and pretend they are college ready.

    If a woman (or minority or whoever) wants to do a job, and can prove she can do it, then give her an equal opportunity. But that’s the end of it.

    1. Karen, I quite agree that unfortunately it is the nature of bureaucracy that they overlook the actual evidence to try and get a desired outcome no matter the cost. That is why affirmative action has degenerated to the lower standards. It takes management to stop this stupidity and leadership, but that demands some guts and integrity, something which tends to get bureaucrats in trouble rather than CYA. I don’t know what the answer is other than to push from below to stop this idiocy.

  4. Mike:

    “Lowering the standards for women is discriminatory to all of the women on the NYFD who passed the test. Women firefighters will be looked at by their male peers as part of class of firefighters who got special treatment even though they didn’t. This will sow the seeds for discord in the ranks and morale problems.”

    This is exactly the problem with Affirmative Action, and its offshoots. Once the general public becomes aware that its recipients benefitted from lowered standards and special treatment, it taints their accomplishments. Do you want a neurosurgeon who passed on his own merits, or who had lower expectations because of gender or race? Same with police, fire, military and other jobs. Without lowering the bar via Affirmative Action, then the women who gain these positions are admired for passing rigorous physical fitness standards. With AA, one assumes they don’t deserve to be there, and that they can’t do the job. Do marines want to serve with a woman who is strong enough to pack out a wounded marine 5 miles? Or with one for whom they lowered the bar, who will have to leave them bleeding on the ground because she’s not strong enough to carry him?

    I met a female cop who just had that aura of authority and competence. She was born to be a cop. She missed nothing. She was a good partner. She was strong. She handled suspects smoothly. And I knew two others who had voices like Minnie Mouse, couldn’t run very far, and were not very strong at all. I couldn’t imagine what they could do if a criminal went after their gun or fought with their partner. There were other jobs in the PD they were more suited for than being a beat cop.

  5. As a fireman, I find this disturbing. The greatest compliment a firefighter can give another is to tell them that they would want them by their side in a structure fire since they know that they would get them out no matter what. My list of these firefighters is fairly short. This lady would never get this compliment. I’m guessing that a law suite will be coming soon where she will claim that she is being treated differently by her now peers. I know if she was in my firehouse, I would be avoiding her like the plague.

  6. If she gets 6 times to pass the physical fitness requirements, then everyone gets 6 chances.

    How would that sound to the grown man overcome with smoke inhalation, requiring her to carry him down 6 flights of stairs, or down a ladder? That it took her a mere 6 times to pass a physical fitness test?

    If you can do the job, you should do the job. But you do not get special treatment because of your gender. I agree with Darren that job testing standards must measure a candidate’s ability to actually do the job. If she can’t pass, she is incapable of performing her duties. I’ve known firemen over the years who were quite bitter about lowering the bar for women due to Affirmative Action, and its facsimiles. They were held to far lower standards than the men. The same thing happened in the police force, as well. There were motived, qualified individuals who waited years to become either firemen or policemen, while an African American woman could stroll right to the head of the line with the barest minimum interest and substandard physical ability.

    Make the test accurately measure the ability to perform critical job functions, and then set a standard number of tries, such as 2. And then apply it equally to everyone. That would be fair.

  7. Chinggis Think that some people who think they are smarty pants are not smarty pants enough to understand liberals. Chinggis’ great great great great great great great great great great great great great great great great great great great great great great great great great great great great great great grandfather liberal for his time. Did not burn down all cities. Just burn those cities that not pay tribute to him. Same way senator Ted Cruz play politics today. Cruz burn bridges, not cities. But Cruz not burn Lloyd Bridges or Jeff Bridges. Lloyd Bridges not burned by Cruz because Bridges roasted by Bob Hope. For being in movie with Three Stooges.

  8. There are two issues that I have seen over the years that are somewhat basic to the questions raised here.

    There was a time when it was nearly impossible for most Asian women to become police officers in many jurisdictions. The reason was a minimum height and weight standard such as five foot eleven inches and 175 pounds.

    We look at this and ask whey it is adopted. The old school thinking was that a person needed to be of this minimum body morphology to successfully defend themselves, alone, and make an arrest. However it does create an artificial barrier to many groups of individuals, as there were very few Vietnamese immigrant women at the time who met this standard. As such it could then be used to exclude these demographic groups under the color of fitness standards.

    We have to then address if being 5’11” and 175 is the minimum necessary body shape to accomplish arrests and ensure their safety. The evidence shows that while it is obvious that a bigger police officer can more easily defeat a much smaller aggressor, it is not absolutely a necessary requisite.

    The standard then needs to be one where the “individual” is able to accomplish the necessary tests that follow an actual job standard. It must be done in a way that is measurable at pre-hire testing.

    Here are a few tests that can be cone with LEOs

    1. Be able to drag a 150# dummy 25 feet. This simulates dragging the average weight of a person a distance needed to bring them to safety.
    2. Be able to pull two arms together of a hand-cuffing simulator under the load of the arm strength of a typical offender.
    3. Be able to reach hand and foot controls of a patrol car and operate them without modification, since it is a usual practice that the candidate might need to drive other, unmodified vehicles, without notice

    The state can avoid liability by ensuring that actual job standards need to be met by the candidate rather than arbitrary rules that have no direct bearing on suitability for employment.

    I also should emphasize that there needs to be reasonable differences in acceptable ranges between men and women for some issues. Men as a whole are going to have significantly better upper body strength than women. It should be recognized also that upper body strength is not the sole criterion for public service employment. By requiring only this the agency is precluding a good many other aspects that can be provided by women to complement the department, and the department is depriving itself of some useful resources.

    I think a ground level way of determining what candidate testing will encompass is to define actual minimum standards. (perhaps carrying a SCUBA device up a two story ladder as being passing) and then award extra points for speed. But then there also needs to be testing on other fronts such as knowledge of the profession, and all other aspects where a candidate might be low in the ladder climb but might excel in the hazardous chemical identification.

    In the end as the result of a good testing procedure, candidates with a wide range of skills and specialties will fill the employment ranks and from there each situation will tap the skills of each particular employee from their unique talent set.

    But failing to weed out those who legitimately cannot perform the duties is a ticking time bomb. Eventually it will bite the department and its employees. If they are not trainable or cannot meet the standards they should be removed from their position, or better yet never hire them to begin with. Once they are hired, getting rid of them is far more difficult and costly.

    Unfortunately, administrations seem to forget this lesson from time to time, and it happens especially more frequently when they try to bend the standards to suit their political goals.

  9. America should not appoint women to be judges either. Look at Judge Judy and all those other itchBays on television. Jeso. Put dog on the bench. Four legs good, two legs baaaad. Especially if crossed.

  10. “All animals are equal, but more equal than others.” Liberals obviously don’t understand Orwell.

  11. @ Mike at 3:30pm, note that it was the organization of women firefighters who campaigned to get this candidate the extra tries to pass the test – they don’t seem to be experiencing any anger about this particular discrimination.

  12. Lowering the standards for women is discriminatory to all of the women on the NYFD who passed the test. Women firefighters will be looked at by their male peers as part of class of firefighters who got special treatment even though they didn’t. This will sow the seeds for discord in the ranks and morale problems.
    perhaps that is why Lt. Elizabeth Osgood objected to the special treatment Tapia recieved.

    As a former wildland firefighter I have no problem saying that physical strength and endurance are critical to the job, it’s importance only equaled by crew morale.

  13. Socialism in action.
    Because some people cannot perform at the current standards, then we will lower the standards for them.

    This is also pathological egalitarianism.
    Instead of the standards of performance being the primary metric, it becomes the requirement that all classes of people must be entitled to the same job as anyone else, irrespective of whether they can perform the job.

  14. First I might want to review the physical requirements to insure they are both adequate and non-restrictive. Then make everyone meet them.

    The litigious angle of this story is getting little comment. Too many organizations pay people with ridiculous claims because it is expensive to defend a case. That fact needs to be addressed.

  15. I think politicians and federal judges should be helped only by police officers and firefighters who have been shoehorned in by relaxed standards. If they survive maybe they will finally understand how nutty these policies are.

  16. Joseph Jones: Agreed, there are hundreds of other young women who could qualify. If the NYFD is intent on hiring more women, they should start recruiting at gyms and fitness centers.

    However, the physical fitness knife should cut both ways. I used to work in emergency services. The chief at the fire house I worked in was so fat he couldn’t wear an SCBA. If physical fitness is a critical requirement for performing the job, it should apply to men and women, old and young, newbie or chief.

  17. Like some folks said… embrace our differences, and we will function as a well regulated machine. You can pass the test or you can’t…

    Women as a rule are physically weaker than men. One of my favorite sayings is, ‘There are exceptions to every rule, with that rule being the exception to itself.’ You’ll find women who are above and beyond the average man. Although more often than not, the average man will completely dominate the average woman in a fair fight. (Women should acquire and practice with force-multipliers to level the playing field against animalistic monsters mistakenly reported to be men.)

    Here’s a fun story featuring everyone’s favorite female sports sisters of tennis. That’s right, I put words in all your mouths here and assumed they were your favorite.

    “Preparation is crucial. Remember that a game like this is light-hearted – taking it too seriously would be a mistake. My training regime consisted of a leisurely round of golf in the morning followed by a couple of shandies. I turned up on court feeling suitably laid-back.”


  18. Affirmative action alone will not fix the problem.

    Correct. All the affirmative action in the world is not going to give a woman the same upper body strength as a man. Not all men have the ability to do a fireman’s carry either.

    Not everyone is equal. Some people are just stronger, smarter, quicker, more talented in different areas.
    Instead of trying to cram people into niches where they are not capable, encourage them into areas where they are and where they can compete.


  19. Chinggis say ok to give woman extra chance to pass test only if City teach all fires in New York to not burn so fast.

  20. Affirmative action is one of two bookends. It was and remains the easiest to apply to the problem. The problem of discrimination will exist for sometime. It, however, should not be applied as a bandaid and then left. The other bookend is preparing the problem youth to empower them to meet the standards necessary for the jobs from which traditionally they have been kept away from due to discrimination. They should never be allowed to access jobs for which they are not capable.

    The medical and legal professions are examples of where affirmative action has been instrumental in changing the status quo for the better. Lowering the bar for minorities that have been disadvantaged from 98% to 95% does not denigrate the professions. The very universities when discriminating against minorities have seen their entrance level rise and fall percentage points due to the rise and fall of applicants. The more applicants, the higher the entrance level. A black applicant to a medical school will most likely make a fine doctor when applying with a 95% as would a white with 98%. The social results of centuries of discrimination being addressed does within reasonable percentage points become more important than simply who has the highest GPA.

    Affirmative action alone will not fix the problem. It was the best and fastest way to create a minority and discriminated against presence in the professions; in order to present to the youth of those groups the potential. The harder to fix and more neglected bookend is the elementary and middle school periods of the lives of these kids.

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