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Joann Diaz split time between the Bronx and Puerto Rico during her childhood. Photo: FDNY

Who is Joann Diaz? FDNY’s first Latina Fire Lieutenant

The firefighter joined the department in 2003 after noticing little to no female representation.

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On Wednesday, Oct. 20, Joann Diaz became the first-ever Latina fire lieutenant in New York City Fire Department’s 156-history. 

Diaz is a 43-year-old mother of three, who split her childhood between Puerto Rico and the Bronx. She has been a firefighter for 18 years, and joined the FDNY in 2003, after noticing there was little to no female representation.

“I joined the FDNY because I wanted to demonstrate to my peers that women can serve here and I wanted to inspire other women to join the FDNY,” she said in a statement to joinFDNY.com

When Diaz first began her firefighting career, she was one of only a handful of women at the Bronx firehouse, and the only Latina. 

“I was the only one when I came on the job, the only Hispanic woman,” she told the NY Daily News. 

“And one of only 27 women. It’s very exciting and nerve-racking, and I’m ready to demonstrate to my peers that women are capable to work as lieutenants and to inspire others to move forward in the department,” she continued. 

She is among the 13.4% of Hispanics who currently work for the FDNY on the firefighting operation side. On its Emergency Medical Services (EMS) side, the number is 25% of the workforce. 

Lieutenant Diaz says it was a Broadway musical that made her realize that she was just as capable as any man. 

“As a child, I remember seeing the play, ‘Annie Get Your Gun’ off-Broadway and the song, ‘Anything You Can Do (I Can Do Better),’ by Irving Berlin has always stayed with me,” she told JoinFDNY.com.

Her three children, along with her family and colleagues, cheered for Diaz as she walked across the stage at the New York City Fire Department’s Promotions Ceremony on Oct. 20. 

At the ceremony, Diaz praised the friendships that she made throughout her career.

“I have been a firefighter for 18 years and assigned to Engine 79 my entire career. The camaraderie that I have experienced as a member of the department and being the first Hispanic female to be promoted to Lieutenant is a dream come true,” she said. 

Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro used the promotion ceremony not only to celebrate Diaz and her colleagues but also to address the lack of inclusion of the past and his belief that women are just as capable and needed in this industry. 

“I know we are moving slowly when it comes to women in the department, but each and every one that’s worked before Joann, or our current group of women in the department, have all proven this is not just a job for men. This is a job that women can do and do quite well,” Mr. Nigro said.

“We’re all very thrilled. I think that women in this department have been proving themselves for many, many, years and now we have a Latina Lieutenant in the department who has been putting out fires for 17 years already, very experienced and very well-liked,” he continued. 

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