“Women can do it, too.”

By Meghan Overdeep
September 28, 2020
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Credit: Firefighters to the Rescue, Inc.

A group of five female firefighters from Florida are making history.

Earlier this month, Palm Beach Gardens Fire Rescue welcomed the first all-women crew in its 57-year history.

“We’re breaking barriers. It’s the first time we had in our department a female as a captain, a driver, a firefighter, rescue lieutenant, and a medic,” Krystyna Heiser Krakowski, Rescue Lieutenant at Palm Beach Gardens Fire Rescue, told WPBF.  “Women can do it, too.”

Krakowski is joined by Julie Dudley, Kelsey Krzywada, Sandi Ladewski, and Monica Marzullo.

"It was completely organic," Krakowski explained to WBNS about how the women found themselves working together. "It’s never happened in our department to have a woman in every position in house."

The pioneering crew become official on Friday, September 18.

“That day the stars aligned, and it happened to be the day that Justice Ruth Ginsburg passed away as well, so it made the event even more special,” James Ippolito, deputy fire chief of operations, Palm Beach Gardens Fire Rescue, told WPBF.

Krakowski and the rest of the crew are hoping to use their groundbreaking accomplishment to raise money for Firefighters to the Rescue Inc., a nonprofit meant to help first responders fighting their own battles.

In a now-viral series of photos, the all-female crew can be seen sporting the shirt of fellow Palm Beach Gardens firefighter Brian Wolnewitz, who was diagnosed earlier this year with stage four lung cancer. Krakowski told WBNS that the 40-year-old father of four never smoked a day in his life. It's suspected he might have fallen ill from working as a firefighter.

"He's our driving force," she said.

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In addition to helping Wolnewitz, Krakowski hopes to encourage the next generation of female firefighters to keep breaking those glass ceilings.

“We can do anything, we are capable of anything, don’t let anyone stop you,” she told WPBF.