Captian Michele Fitzsimmons has made history as New York City Fire Department’s first lesbian battalion chief. Fitzsimmons is a 19-year veteran of the NYC Fire department and was promoted to battalion chief May 21, 2020.
According to New York’s Daily News, Fitzsimmons was honored in a ceremony by the Fire Department that followed social distancing rules. Fitzsimmons, as well as the rest of the department, were wearing masks throughout the duration of the ceremony. During the ceremony, it was noted that Fitzsimmons’s wife, DiAnna, stayed in the car to follow social distancing rules.
While Fitzsimmons is not the first woman to be named chief of the NYC Fire Department, she is the first lesbian to be promoted. The first woman was Rochelle Jones who was married to a male firefighter, John Thomas and retired from her post in 2011. Thus, Fitzsimmons is the first lesbian to take charge of the chief’s position in 2020.
Before joining the NYC Fire Department, Fitzsimmons actually worked at GMHC, an HIV awareness organization. Likewise, she also was the coordinator of the Lesbian AIDS project in the GMHC before joining the fire department.
So, what does the battalion chief of the NYC Fire Department do? Fitzsimmons will be in charge of FDNY ladder and engines companies.
A third generation fire fighter, Fitzsimmons joined the NYC Fire Department in 2001. At the time, she was the only woman in her graduating class. However, shortly after her sister also joined the department.
Due to there being so few women as a part of the NYC Fire Department, there was even fewer lesbian representation. However, Fitzsimmons is actually the past president of FireFlag, which is the NYC Fire Departments Pride organization. We love to see it.
Fitzsimmons is passionate about her sexuality and is vocal about being a lesbian and a woman in a career path that has not always been so accepting. The firefighter encourages young women and girls to pursue a career in firefighting. In fact, Fitzsimmons is the co-founder of the Phoenix Fire Camp. The camp encourages young girls to follow the firefighter path, and raises awareness that women can do anything they set their minds to!
Fitzsimmons started with the NYC Fire Department when there were little to no women who felt comfortable pursuing that kind of career path. Due to working in a predominately male environment, Fitzsimmons took it upon herself to help encourage women to be a part of the fire department. As a result, many more women have joined. Now Fitzsimmons uses her position to also speak about being a lesbian in her field and to spread equality and love to anyone who wants to be a firefighter. What a badass!