History has been made in the FDNY.
Commissioner Daniel Nigro appointed Rev. Ann Kansfield as the department's first-ever female and openly gay chaplain during a swearing-in ceremony Tuesdayin Canarsie.
As chaplain, Kansfield, 39, will visit firehouses to offer spiritual guidance; travel to fires when FDNY members are injured; and close FDNY ceremonies with invocations and benedictions. The chaplain also aids fire, EMS and civilian families by arranging services for deceased members and providing comfort to their kin.
Kansfield's first official task Tuesday was cutting the ribbon on the FDNY's brand new $1.2-million EMS Station 59 in Canarsie.
As one of eight FDNY chaplains, Kansfield -- who has been the pastor of Greenpoint Reformed Church since 2003 -- said that the department strives to be as diverse as the city it serves. She said she's looking forward to offering spiritual guidance and direction to all members.
"People who know me well know that this position is a really good fit," Kansfield said. "I hope to achieve the same thing as all of the other chaplains, which is love, compassion and care to a group of people who are constantly sacrificing their lives."
Along with ceremonial duties, Kansfield hopes to engage with the FDNY community as much as possible. From having frequent conversations with members to welcoming their personal prayers, Kansfield plans to be a constant presence for those seeking out spiritual support.
"I'm excited to have Pastor Ann Kansfield join our ranks and assume her important role in the FDNY -- providing spiritual guidance and emotional support to our 15,000 uniformed and civilian employees," Commissioner Nigro said in a statement. "She has demonstrated a strong commitment not only to the people of her parish, but of the entire Greenpoint community by running a soup kitchen and coordinating various local programs promoting music, the arts, and mental health."
Jeff Stone, a spokesman for LGBT advocacy group Dignity/New York, believes Kansfield's appointment is a positive step for the FDNYas well as for New Yorkers at large.
"I think it's fantastic to hear about these two huge firsts," Stone said. "We know the fire department has been trying to reach out to women and gay people, so this will definitely advance the diversity of the city."
Dignity/New York is a non-profit organization that encourages gay men, lesbians, bisexuals, and transgender people to express their sexuality in a manner consistent with Christ's teachings.
Stone also mentioned Father Mychal Judge, a Catholic priest and FDNY chaplain who was killed in the World Trade Center on 9/11, and whose homosexuality was only known to the public after his death.
"Father Judge didn't feel comfortable coming out as an openly gay man, so I think Pastor Kansfield's appointment really shows just how far we've come," Stone said.
Kansfield says she is looking forward to applying pivotal lessons to the FDNY community, including how to best work with diverse groups of people.
"At my congregation, I have learned ways to serve people from various backgrounds, which has fully prepared me to continue the work of the FDNY," she said."