On September 11, 2001, the world changed forever. The terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center in New York City left a lasting impact on the world, and it was the firefighters who ran into the burning buildings to help save lives. Brenda Berkman was one of those first responders, and she has since become an icon for women in the firefighting community.
Berkman was one of the first women to join the New York City Fire Department (FDNY) in the late 1970s, after winning a federal discrimination lawsuit against the City of New York. She went on to serve as a firefighter for 25 years, retiring as a captain. Her career included acting as a first responder during 9/11, an experience that left a profound impact on her.
In a recent interview, Berkman shared her memories of that fateful day. She recalled the chaos and confusion as she and her fellow firefighters rushed to the scene. “We had no idea what we were walking into,” she said. “We just knew that people were in trouble and we had to help.”
Despite the danger and the uncertainty, Berkman and her colleagues did not hesitate to enter the burning buildings. “We knew that people were trapped and that they needed us,” she said. “We didn’t have time to be scared. We just had to do our jobs.”
Berkman and her fellow firefighters worked tirelessly to rescue as many people as possible. They climbed stairs, carried equipment, and searched through the smoke and debris for survivors. “It was like nothing I had ever experienced before,” she said. “The heat, the smoke, the sounds – it was overwhelming.”
In the aftermath of the attacks, Berkman became an advocate for women in the firefighting community. She has worked tirelessly to promote equality and to encourage more women to join the profession. In 2020, she helped unveil the Women’s Rights Pioneers Monument in Central Park, which celebrates the contributions of women to American history.
Berkman’s bravery and dedication have inspired countless people, both inside and outside the firefighting community. As she looks back on her career, she is proud of what she accomplished. “I never thought that I would be a firefighter,” she said. “But I’m so glad that I took that chance. It was the best decision I ever made.”
Brenda Berkman’s legacy continues to live on, as she serves as a beacon of what it means ot be brave in the face of adversity.