Ahlam Ahmed — five feet tall, 105 pounds, wearing a hijab – probably doesn't resemble your mental image for the word "firefighter." But the 18-year-old Queens high school student isn't about to let that stop her.
Ahmed was among the dozens of aspiring first responders who attended the inaugural FDNY Women's History Month Female Outreach Event, held on Randalls Island last Saturday. Women of a wide variety of ages and backgrounds tried their hand at training drills (including dousing a burning car with a hose, which — as seen in the photo above — looks like a hell of a lot of fun) and met with female firefighters.
All but 44 of FDNY's 10,000 firefighters are men, and of that small group, none are observant Muslims. It remains to be seen whether Ahmed's head scarf would pose a problem for her service. FDNY's Elisheva Zakheim told The Village Voice that, while the department "respects all religious practices," safety comes first — a firefighter must be able to wear his or her equipment. Situations like Ahmed's are typically tackled "on a case-by-case basis."
Ahmed, who graduates high school in June, is undeterred by the physical challenges of the job.
"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."
Molly Fitzpatrick is senior editor of Fusion's Pop & Culture section. Her interests include movies about movies, TV shows about TV shows, and movies about TV shows, but not so much TV shows about movies.