NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The daughter of a firefighter killed on September 11, 2001, is now a firefighter herself.
It was the first time that this has happened in the New York City Fire Department.
As CBS2’s Elise Finch reported, Josephine Smith received thunderous applause as she was given her diploma and became a member of the FDNY.
“I’ve been waiting for this day my whole life, especially the past 13 years. I’ve made it a mission to make sure that I fulfilled my dream and became a New York City firefighter, follow in my father’s footsteps,” Smith said.
Josephine’s father, Kevin, was a 23-year veteran of the department. His Manhattan Hazmat company was called to the World Trade Center on 9/11. Smith’s entire unit died that day.
Since September 11, a number of sons have followed their fallen fathers into service as New York City firefighters, but Josephine is the first daughter to do so.
“Physically it’s hard, but you put your heart to it, your mind to it, it’s amazing how strong you can actually be,” she said.
CBS2 was there when Smith and the other female candidates were training to pass the grueling physical exam.
“I’m out here training hard. If I have to be out here everyday ’til I get tired, ’til I’m 50, whatever I’ve got to do,” she said.
The petite 34-year-old said ever since her father died, her mantra has been ‘make him proud.’
“She’s made him proud. She’s made us proud, but most important she’s made herself proud of what she’s accomplished today,” Smith’s mother Angelina Clay said.
Smith said her father will always be with her as she starts her career. She has a picture of him in her hat and carry’s her father’s bracelet every day.
“There’s not a second that goes by that I don’t think of my father, everything, there’s so much that reminds me of him. There’s so much that I wish that I could tell him about. Like come home, tell him what I learned today, get his feedback,” she said, “As far back as I can remember going to work with my dad, playing on the fire trucks, even telling my dad how I was going to work with him one day.”
Smith was one of four women who graduated from the city’s fire academy on Tuesday, raising the number of female firefighters to 44, the most in department history.
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