A Decade In Making, Females Join Fire Department

It’s been more than a decade, but on Thursday Mayor Joe Ganim announced the hiring of two female firefighters as part of a new class of 15, all of whom are city residents, according to the city.

What held females back? The rigorous demands of the Candidate Physical Ability Test (CPAT). Last year the city implemented a recruitment drive with a heavy emphasis on attracting female candidates.

CPAT has come under fire in the OIB comments section by retired Bridgeport firefighters Donald Day and Ron Mackey who assert plenty of dedicated female firefighters have served ably in the past without it.

CPAT certification became a standard under then Bridgeport Fire Chief Brian Rooney more than 10 years ago. Since that time not one female firefighter had been hired. Until now.

Ganim, a fit 60-year-old, took CPAT and passed acknowledging the strength-sapping process. Instructors, as part of the recruitment drive for women, showed how to leverage core muscles to navigate the drills.

The new class will now train at the Connecticut Fire Academy located in Windsor Locks, undergoing a 70-day, 14-week resident course that focuses on developing the knowledge, skills and abilities needed to optimally perform on the job, according to the city.

“All through the ranks, you’ll find that the leadership in our Fire Department understands the challenges of the job, but also how to engage with and serve the community,” Ganim told the recruits. “You’ve made it this far and there’s no doubt in my mind that you will be a part of the success of this Department.”

The class of 15 will be officially sworn in June 2020.

Demographic breakdown of class: 13 males, two females, eight white, three black, four Hispanic, age range 20-45. Among females, 1 black, 1 Hispanic.

Fire Chief Richard Thode had urged the recruitment of more female firefighters to the department. Given the right training more women are prepared for the physical demands that require core body and leg leverage support, according to those who’ve passed the test.

The test includes wearing a 50-pound vest to simulate firefighter activities as well as an additional 25 pounds of weights on shoulders for a stair climb challenge. Eight obstacles must be completed in under 10 minutes and 20 seconds.
1. Stair Climb
2. Hose Drag
3. Equipment Carry
4. Ladder Raise & Extension
5. Forcible Entry
6. Search
7. Rescue
8. Ceiling Breach & Pull



  1. Don & Ron,

    Victory or not enough? I told you people were working on this. Your fighting on OIB did not help with this. I wrote a letter to the commissioners asking to see this happen! See, i did something productive opposed to just talking about stuff. I wrote a letter and found out why women weren’t becoming fire fighters. Bridgeport we are on our way!

  2. Rich,
    One thing I dislike the most is when people complain about stuff without having an action plan. It is ok to talk about something if you plan to help find a solution. But if you are complaining just to be complaining and not working to change things, then you are the problem. If all 10 or 11 of us who comment on OIB would get together at least once a month to put our thoughts into action, imagine what we can do for this city? Don & Ron can you put a OIB committee together to meet soon? Starbucks on me!

    1. Funny you say 10 or 11. Used to be more. I said a few days ago that I’m probably not long for this site due to a few things including what you just said about the constant complaining with a certain slant. Having inside scoop like from Maria AND others keeps it interesting. I’m hoping for another venue , and a few others that I’m in contact with are of the same opinion.

      1. Hello Everyone
        I didn’t leak this to anyone I wanted it to be a surprise to all. Many of the City council members on Contracts in the last two years. Let the fight Dept Chief know We want them to make a better effort in recruiting Women if not when their Contract comes up we won’t forget. O by the way I’m co-chair of Contracts along with my co-Chair Councilwoman Jennette Herron. Thanks Ron and Don Remember I just gone on the City Council 2017-present

  3. WOW!

    Stephanie are you sure it was your letter and not Ron’s and Day’s squeaky wheel? 🙂

    Ernie are you sure it was a secret. 🙂

    Ron and Day that wheel has been oil and your lack of post confirm it. 🙂

    JML, time tells and then it tells again differently. 🙂

    Poor Joe, Joe changes the top command in the police force form white to brown. His top administration is black. You win a comeback election after going to prison for 9 years and two years in your run for governor and everybody thinks it all about me. Joe’s like Dangerfield, no respect. 🙂

    Quick question OIB. If a person born male then identifies as a woman and changes have a sex change and were hired by the fighter department will that still consider a female hire?

    P.S Lennie this is my last post until you unban Maria. Fight the Power. 🙂

    At any rate, don’t need it. 🙂


  4. Mayor Ganim, this is a disgrace, using your numbers the Bridgeport Fire Department rate at hiring woman is hiring 2 women every 10 years and that’s success. Mayor Ganim can’t say why the City keeps using CPAT, Hartford had CPAT and they got rid of it and New Haven doesn’t use it and they have no problem hiring women, they have women in every single hiring class they have but not Bridgeport, 2 women in 10 years. NOT one women on the Bridgeport Fire Department today passed the CPAT to get hired and they are good firefighters. The first group of fire candidates that got hired from the same test are all men but Mayor Ganim did mention that, no had to for the second group with 2 women to get hired and all those who have post on this including council member Ernie Newton thing that this progress. Hard work work and training is part of making a good firefighter but there is absolutely no follow up with firefighters to see if they meet any standard and if CPAT is so good then all Bridgeport firefighters should have to pass CPAT I’m order to keep their position. Again, this a DISGRACE.

    1. These two women will be the first women in the history of the Bridgeport Fire Department have passed the CPAT exam in ordered to get hired but we have had women to pass the Pumper Engineer exam and perform those duties, we have had women to get promoted to Lieutenant and have performed their duties and the as Fire Inspectors in the Fire Marshall Division and NONE of them had to pass CPAT but when the City started using CPAT women aren’t even hired.

  5. It’s a start, but I hope not a shallow start designed to take the heat off the issue of women performing as firefighters. Ron Mackey has dedicated most of his life in this most important department. As a show of common sense and seriousness, perhaps there should have been a reach-out to him for input and suggestions. Nothing showy, just set aside time to sit and have a discussion. And guess what, I’ll bet the ranch he would gladly to it without expecting compensation because he genuinely cares. There would be no pressure or obligation to consider his knowledge and experience, but it would go a long way to improve public perception and show inclusivness. I admire and respect our Bridgeport Police Department, but here’s my question. We seem to be constantly hiring consultants to offer their expertise to address ways to bring about improvement in areas that warrant it in the Police Department. I don’t pretend to know what CPAT involves or how it would place limits on women, but if other municipalities have eliminated that portion of the testing, why can’t we give it a try. Before I face criticism for not knowing what I’m talking about, please understand that I have followed the issue of women serving in the Department for years, there must be something to it. I’m just asking!

  6. Lisa, Bill Finch was the mayor and before they made the change we asked to sit down to discuss CPAT. The City had the Chief Rooney, David Dunn and Larry Osborne there, the President and Vice President of the Hispanics Society and Don, myself and our executive board, we had our set people who would speak and we missed something that they would write it and give it to us. There were also a number of elected members at the table. After going back and forth with it was obvious that nothing was going to change. Lisa, we had research CPAT because we had spoken with other fire Chiefs across the country but especially right here in Conn. We had a meeting with the Chief in Hartford and told us why they stop using CPAT and he gave us information about the new testing company and their track record with women passing and getting hired, in fact the Chief said that he would come down to Bridgeport to explain why they made the change. Finch, Dunn and Rooney didn’t want to hear anything. Don and I told Finch that we guaranteed that NO woman would pass and get hired, he said if that happened then he would throw the exam out and we told him that it was illegal for him to do that. I left out one other person, Charles Donald Clemons Jr. the current Bridgeport Town Clerk. The same question that we asked 12 years ago wasn’t answered then and no one can answer it now, what was wrong with the test that the City had been using and women were passing and getting hired and getting promoted to CPAT where women are not being hired?

  7. Lisa
    Thanks, The contracts committee is putting together Language either in an ordinance or in our city council rules that speaks to what contracts over see. We will be looking at all Labor contract before negotiations start.The contract committee as you know only gets to vote yes or no, on all labor contracts. We feel because we only have limited authority, we should have a greater role in this process. Myself and my co-chair Jeanette Herron and member of that committee will be reporting something out soon.

    1. I believe you have more power than You think. Discussion usually precedes a yes or no vote. During discussion try this, I will not support this contract unless this is included. Enough of y’all express the same thing it gets included or at least negotiated. This has worked on a few contracts and RFP’s in my limited experience. What gets put before me is not necessarily what gets approved.

  8. Lisa, if you have been following the issue of women serving in the Department for years you should know what CPAT is, and how it’s being used to eliminate women from being hired in the BFD, BAM! 🙂

    Ron, Lisa wasn’t really looking for a response. She was exalting you, using you in a sense, to attack Joe and give credence to you calling him a disgrace. However, you are right if the CPAT was a vital instrument to gauge fighter fires’ ability to be on the force the will have them take it every year.

    At least there is a fair understanding that there are physical differences between men and women, not saying women can’t pass the CPAT or just because you’re a man you can. But there is a difference. Like the CPAT, let’s take some consideration for concerns raised by the other side. Because let’s face it age has more of a factor in physical ability then gender and is why firefighters are not required to take the CPAT periodically.

    PS. Lisa, don’t take it out on Rich, and I don’t know why you are made at Brown? You said you showed, taught and guided him in Port politics. Lying and betrayal are common. Your Padawan learner has done well. Palpatine would be proud. 🙂

    In a way, aren’t we all like Maria? Just more eloquent and with a filter. Maria is the “camel” cigarette of the Port, no filter. BAM! 🙂

    Well, maybe, #banned. BBB, BAM! 🙂


    1. Ernie, thank you for your response to me, I know you’re on it. Moving on, my friend Ron Mackey told me a while back not to respond to anything Teixeira says to me, but you l;ittle shit, you better shut your mouth when it comes to anything I say about my friend Ron Mackey. Don’t try to draw any conclusions about what I say about anyone, especially Ron. And as to Rich A. , he’s an intelligent, well-informed gentleman, I like and admire him and look forward to reading his opinions going forward. Now go back under your rock and stay away from my comments, because this time I am listening to Ron.

      1. Lol!! I am sitting here actually laughing as a result to your response to RT, Lisa.
        That was great even if you did not throw those accolades towards me!
        RT: lol, be nice, Lisa has a wealth of knowledge about the ENTIRE Bridgeport system of politics and as is shown by her absence here recently, she tries to ‘stay above the fray’ with a lot of the B.S. that WE ALL write here. ……………………………..Free Maria!!!!!!….cheers!

      2. Lisa, Candidate Physical Ability Test or CPAT, was put into place by Mayor Bill Finch 12 years ago but before it started the Firebird Society asked to have a meeting with the mayor about and why it was a bad tool to measure candidates and especially women. At the meeting there was Mayor Finch, Fire Chief Rooney and David Dunn, the President and Vice President of the Hispanic Society, Andre Baker, Ed Gomes, the executive board of the Firebird Society, Donald Day and myself, Don and myself were the speakers on our side. We asked the question was there a problem with firefighters preforming their duties as firefighters, the City said no, so we asked then why were they making the change to CPAT. We were not given an answer. Don and I spoke with the Fire Chief in Hartford and New Haven on why they DO NOT use CPAT. Hartford did use CPAT but they got rid of it because there were NO on their hiring list, when we sat down with the Hartford Fire Chief he gave us the information about the testing company that they use and they have no problem in hiring women. We know what the track record is with CPAT I hiring women but Mayor Finch and his team didn’t want to hear anything we said, we told Mayor Finch they we guarantee that NO women would be hired from CPAT and Mayor Finch said that if that happen then he would throw out the exam and we told Mayor Finch that he couldn’t do it because it’s illegal. Under G1 Joe Ganim had great success with women being hired and getting promoted so after Ganim got elected we asked to meet him about CPAT so Don and myself met Rev. Stallworth and Wilbur Chapman both men were hired by Mayor Ganim but those meetings didn’t go anywhere because of David Dunn.

      3. Lisa, there is absolutely nothing in this for Don and myself, it was the last battle that I was involved with while I was still President of the Firebird Society. I was president for 10 years and Don was before for 6 years as president, for 16 years we were like dual presidents at the same time, plus the elected positions we held on the regional and national level it was our time to let others to take over.

  9. Ernie.
    The city council has no authority in labor contracts. You can vote up or down. The only input the city council has is funding level and that began with charter revision of 1988. The fire chief managers the fire department and the chief reports to the mayor, head of the executive branch of government.

    Some feel that, given the noticeable decline in the education and work experience in recent city councils, that Bridgeport should return budget oversight authority to an appointed or elected board with appropriate education, skills and experience.

    Perhaps though, the city council can request that research of best practices of other municipalities be done. You recall from decades ago that Bridgeport hired consultants to recommend measures to address funding and safety, leading to consolidation (closing) of fire houses, standardizing of equipment, and revising of manning levels (negotiated in union contracts).

    Unlike the State Legislature, the city council does not have an OLR (Office of Legislative Research).
    John Lee has addressed the city council on this point many times and provided specific advice. Unfortunately, most city council members lack critical thinking skills possibly due to their lack of education and work experience. It is easier for council members to follow orders and spend their time awarding citations, posting photos on Facebook with internet access paid by taxpayers, attending useless National League of Cities conferences (mini vacations) paid by taxpayers and being photo props for the mayor’s office.

    1. You are absolutely correct about the ‘lack of critical thinking skills’ when referring to some people on the council. I have commented here many times about the same exact issue. I’ve also said that some are actually illiterate. You are also correct about placing these same people on various committees. When you see who what and where they sit it’s plainly obvious that they were just placed there to vote the way THEY ARE TOLD to vote. Maria started to point out what it was like to witness exactly that BEFORE SHE WAS BANNED from this venue. Silenced…..as it were….
      FREE MARIA!!!!!

  10. Lisa, with all due respect it’s not a start, the fact is it’s a damn disgrace. The fact is it hasn’t been 10 years it’s been over 12 years and Ron and myself sit in a meeting with Finch, Dunn and their butt lickers 12 years ago and told them if they use CPAT it will mean the end of women being hired as firefighters. We told them that NO CITY in the country that uses CPAT has been successful at recruiting and hiring of women for the fire service, NONE!

    CPAT was originally submitted at a meeting of the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC) for a physical for current firefighters to keep them physically fit to do the job. The International Association of Fire Fighters went crazy saying you can’t do that to current firefighters because they knew that current firefighters couldn’t pass this prohibitive physical standard. Instead some fool suggested that it be used as a hiring standard for new firefighters and that’s how it got its start. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if David Dunn didn’t manipulated the results that resulted in these two females passing CPAT. There isn’t a woman on the job today that had to pass CPAT, two Lieutenants, two Pumper Engineers and a Fire Marshal and all are good firefighters whose physical abilities as a firefighters were never called into question! Can you imagine the quality women that were passed over for the last 12 years that would have made great firefighters, even the first woman chief might have been lost by this glaring discrimination against women perpetrated by Finch, David Dunn and Mayor Ganim.

    Please people don’t pat these fools on the back for finally stopping the discrimination of women that aspired to be a Bridgeport firefighter, instead they should be excoriated for taking 12 years to do what’s Right, what’s Moral and what’s Just. Casper you are some kind of fool to think your letter to the commission lead to these women being hired as everyone who’s knowledgeable about Bridgeport city government knows nothing gets done in this city without the benefit of political pull and you have NONE OF THAT. By Phylicia.

    1. CPAT was design as a “wellness program” for the current firefighters by The International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC) and The International Association of Fire Fighters.

    2. Don, the fire union, IAFF made a deal with the fire Chiefs, IAFC that incumbent firefighters wouldn’t be tested but the fire union would be only group in America to give the CPAT exam thereby allowing the fire union to charge a fee for all candidates. This allows Bridgeport and other cities and towns to do away with their own in-house Civil Service testing for physical agility test and all responsibility with that testing. If someone would look at the budget for Civil Service testing for the fire department, I’m sure they will find a drop in the budget over the past 12 years, it seems that the City was more concern about cutting the budget at the expense of hiring women. New Haven has had a black female Assistant Chief who was the training chief for the entire department.

  11. Donald, I owe you an apology. When I referenced Don, for some reason I had you in the Police Department. It’s only been seven months since Lori died., and my head is healing along with my heart. As you know, that will be forever. Ditto to you, and thank the two of you brave firefighters for educating us. And to my new/old friend Rich, hang in with us because you have so much share.

  12. First of all, I want to congratulate the two new female rookie firefighters. Hope you pass training and go on to a satisfying career with the BFD.
    To Ron and Donald,
    What is the article actually saying? The BFD knew all along the training that was necessary to pass but couldn’t be bothered showing them? That seems even more egregious.
    They finally bothered to ask and it was a really simple trick to the test. In either case or other reasonable questions, it seems that you are totally correct. CPAT does not measure you physical abilities to do the job but measure your physical ability to pass the test.

    1. Bob, it’s a once in a lifetime test, you pass the CPAT exam and get hired that’s the end of the game, there’s no follow-up, you are on the job and you will never have to be tested to see if you can pass CPAT ever again, you can get as big and out of shape but nothing will happen to you. There are no scientific studies to show that CPAT is a better measuring tool than any other physical agility exam. The training session that City gave was not a CPAT exam because only the International Association of Fire Fighters, the fire union, are certified to give a CPAT exam, instead the City had a makeshift like CPAT. One of the biggest setback in not hiring any women in 12 years is the fact that women of al ages are saying, what the hell, why should I signup to be a firefighter because I won’t get hired just like no other women has been hired. The only thing that CPAT did for Bridgeport was to save the City the cost of giving their own physical agility exam with the side affect of not hiring women.

  13. I’m still waiting for Mayor Ganim, Fire Chief Those, David Dunn to answer the question of why the City is using CPAT when New Haven and Hartford do not use CPAT and they have no problem in hiring qualified women in every test and they have women in every class, why? This new class does not mirror Bridgeport, you have 8 whites out of 15 candidates which is 53% then you have 4 Hispanics which is 26% then you have 3 Blacks for 20% then 2 women for 13%, finally you have 13 men out of 15 for 86% which is much better than the 100% for EVERY past entry level firefighter exam in the past 11 years and this is suppose to be a good, again it’s a disgrace. We can hire women to be police officers but we can’t find women to be firefighters. What are New Haven and Hartford doing right to hire women to be firefighters?


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