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Ex-FDNY commissioner: 'de Blasio is a disaster'
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By Andrea Peyser
May 8, 2015

Ex-FDNY commissioner: 'de Blasio is a disaster'

Mayor de Blasio, you have a life-and-death problem.

“This guy de Blasio is a disaster,’’ Thomas Von Essen, the former New York City fire commissioner, told me.

Von Essen presided over New York’s Bravest on Sept. 11, 2001 — the day terrorists murdered nearly 3,000 innocents, including 343 valiant souls under his command.

“I already gave this city my husband. I’m not going to give it my son,’’ a woman who lost her firefighter husband on 9/11, and whose son followed in his dad’s footsteps by joining the Fire Department, told me.

She asked to remain anonymous so as not to damage her son’s career.

What the heck is going on?

A new female firefighter has been assigned to a New York City firehouse — even though the bumbling babe flamed out on a test of physical fitness. She is the first smoke-eater ever to fail the grueling test of endurance and still get a job fighting fires with the FDNY.

She’s certain not to be the last.

All over this city, people are alarmed that the de Blasio administration has substituted safety for political correctness.

“I’m very passionate about this,’’ Von Essen said. “The primary concern of this administration is to stay out of court, make settlements quickly. To try to appease every special-interest group in this city.’’

On Tuesday, Rebecca Wax, 33, a civilian FDNY employee since 2009, graduated from the city’s Fire Academy. The new probationary firefighter was assigned to Engine Co. 259 in Queens.

As The Post’s Susan Edelman reported, Wax made the cut even after she repeatedly failed the Functional Skills Training test, a punishing, job-related obstacle course.

In 18 weeks at the Fire Academy, firefighter wannabes previously were required to complete the FST within 17 minutes and 50 seconds. The test involves breathing through a mask connected to an air tank while carrying up to 50 pounds of gear, then climbing six flights of stairs, stretching hose lines, raising ladders, and performing tasks that simulate breaking down doors and pulling down ceilings, plus dragging dummies through tunnels with no visibility.

Wax was unable to finish the course several times. On her last try, she did — in more than 22 minutes, sources said.


While taking the test, Wax at times used up her air supply, sources said. The 9/11 widow told me that, in a real fire, this would endanger the safety of not only the public, but of fellow firefighters who would come to her rescue.

Evidently, to the city’s brass, avoiding lawsuits is of paramount importance. This administration paid out $98 million to settle a federal lawsuit filed on behalf of minority firefighter hopefuls, which claimed that the written portion of the firefighting test is biased against black and Hispanic applicants. Now, officials fear a lawsuit from a women’s group, claiming that physical standards discriminate against females.

With Tuesday’s graduation of 305 probies, just 46 of the city’s approximately 10,400 smoke- eaters are gals. But competent women — including two who just graduated from the Fire Academy with Wax, but passed the physical test — might be taken for losers by the public.

Rather than conclude that the vast majority of females don’t possess the stamina and strength needed to effectively fight fires, city honchos have ensured that women may be plunked into jobs they have no business trying to perform. While Wax failed the physical-endurance test, she scored well on the academic portion of the firefighting exam.

In December, Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro testified at a City Council hearing on the FDNY’s efforts to recruit women that he had changed the job’s requirements. Now, endurance and academic grades must average out to 75 percent or higher for a candidate to pass.

“You can still fail [the FST] if you go beyond the time, but you’re not automatically failed from the program,’’ Nigro said.

In 2011, Wax testified on behalf of a City Council bill that, when passed into law, raised the maximum age for new firefighters from 29 to 35. At the time, she was 29 years old.

“I think increasing the age to 35 is a big mistake,’’ Von Essen, 69, told me. “They are desperate to expand the pool of minorities and women.’’

The next time you’re trapped in a burning building, how can you tell if the woman coming to your rescue is up to the job?

This is frightening.

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