A five-foot-tall New York City high school senior who weighs 105 pounds is hoping to become the FDNY’s first female Muslim firefighter.
What Ahlam Ahmed may lack in brawn, she makes up for in determination.
The Village Voice followed Ahmed, as she and some five dozen other young women held their own at the fire department’s training academy on Randall’s Island last weekend.
It was the first female recruiting event the department has ever held tied to Women’s History Month.
"I want to see what the FDNY has to offer," said Ahmed, dressed in jeans, red sweater and white hijab, a traditional Muslim veil that covers the head and chest.
She told The Voice she would not have been at Saturday’s event if not for a convincing FDNY recruiter at a career fair at Kingsborough Community College.
"At first, I was like, 'I can't do that,' " she says. "I've got strict parents and I'm a girl and I'm small."
But the male recruiter told her “Do it! Do it! Sign up! You never know what's going to happen."
"I liked that pressure. I appreciated him pressuring me to do this," she said.
At Saturday’s event, she got to use a fire hose to douse a small blaze and was dressed with 50 pounds of gear to get a sense of what the job requires.
It did not deter the 18-year-old, who is of Yemeni descent and attends the private Al-Ihsan Academy in South Ozone Park, Queens.
“Yeah, I still want to be a firefighter,” she told the Voice. “It’s an exciting job and I have an interest in saving people’s lives.”
She said the hardest part of it all may be convincing her parents.