California dreaming

It’s politically incorrect to call a fireman a fireman.  Because the liberal party line goes (come on, let’s all pretend together) that women can do any job as well as men.  Well, they can’t.  At least not when it comes to firefighting.  Recall the sight of women training in California in bunker gear and air packs, unable to get over a fence in the obstacle course and just hanging there?  Undoubtedly, there are women with enough upper body strength and stamina to fight fires, and my hat’s off to them.  But of the three hundred-odd fireman who died on 9/11, not one was a woman.  It’s just not their schtick.

Enter the face of Oakland’s firemen – Battalion Chief of Fire Melinda Drayton, a woman who gets paraded for public occasions such as a news conference about the horrific recent fire in Oakland.  There she stands in a spotlessly clean turnout coat, spotless white fire helmet, with goggles perched at a rakish angle atop her abundant hair.  Her background?  As near as I can tell...a degree in psychology.  Her mission: to perpetuate the feminist myth that women can be firemen, too.

Look at me, look at me, look at me!

Sitting at my desk, I raise my eyes from the picture of Battalion Chief of Fire Melinda Drayton posing for the press in that parade-worthy fashionable helmet up to the wall where my dad’s battered FDNY helmet hangs in a place of honor.  It’s burned, scarred, and partially crushed from when he fell ten stories down an elevator shaft in Brooklyn and was saved by a cushion of burning debris.  It went into the Hudson River with him at the Hoboken Pier fire, it’s still scented with whiskey from the VAT 69 warehouse fire, and he was wearing it when he saved his company at a gas main fire an act of selflessness and love that was memorialized fifty years later on the outside wall of Ladder 122 in Park Slope.

That’s a helmet.  That was a fireman.  That was my dad.

The sight of a pretentious female psychologist trying to act like him makes me want to throw up.

Richard F. Miniter is the author of The Things I Want Most, Random House, BDD.  See it here.  He lives and writes in the colonial-era hamlet of Stone Ridge, New York; blogs here; and can also be reached at