Born And Raised Port Washington Resident Is Making History

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From the left, Port Washington Fire Department 1st Assistant, Chief Matthew Kerin; Port Washington Fire Department Chairman, Michael Tedeschi; Council Member Mariann Dalimonte; Evan Nadel; Port Washington Fire Department’s Flower Hill Hose Company #1, Captain Emma Nadel; Supervisor Jennifer DeSena; Port Washington Fire Department Chief, Brian Waterson; and Port Washington Fire Department 2nd Assistant Chief, Donald Reese. (Contributed photo from the Town of North Hempstead)

Earlier this month, the Port Washington Fire Department(PWFD) made history. For the first time in PWFD history, a woman was elected into office as a Captain at one of the three fire companies of the PWFD. Captain Emma Nadel is a 25-year-old Port Washington resident and is starting her seventh year at the Flower Hill Hose Company #1.
The PWFD is made up of four different companies, each with it’s own responsibilities. Atlantic Hook & Ladder, Protection Engine and Flower Hill Hose Company #1 are responsible for fire suppression. The fourth company, Fire Medic, is responsible for emergency medical and has had female Captains and a large female employment. But when it comes to the line companies, Nadel is the first female Captain responsible for fire protection.
According to a press release from the town of North Hempstead, “the Port Washington Fire Department is one of the largest and busiest fire departments in New York State and covers an 11-square mile area.” Taking on the role of Captain to one of the companies in the busiest department seems daunting, but members of the department believe in and support Captain Nadel. Former Fire Department Chief Christopher Bollerman said that “Captain Nadel is extremely respected by her peers in the department who are very aware of this significant accomplishment and are very proud of her.”
In 2018, Nadel took on the position of third Assistant Engineer at Flower Hill Hose Company. After that, there are six-line officer positions to move up through. Nadel proceeded to move up the ranks throughout her years, and with the support from her fellow members of the Flower Hill Hose Company, Nadel was elected to be Captain of the company.
“I still find it somewhat surreal that I am now the Captain. I am honored and blessed to be in this position,” said Captain Nadel. “I have had years of knowledge and experience given to me by the great officers who have held these positions before me. Our former Captain, Joseph LoRe, did an amazing job in paving the way for me to be successful as the next Captain.”
When Nadel first began working at the Flower Hill Hose Company, becoming Captain was not a goal of hers. Things changed for Nadel when her father, James Nadel said “My daughter is going to be Captain of her firehouse one day.” Unfortunately, Nadel’s father passed away in 2016.
“On Sept. 11, 2001, my father was one of the responders performing emergency electrical services around the 9/11 disaster zone,” said Captain Nadel. “His duties included establishing and maintaining an emergency generator, restoring vital communication services and assisting with periodic bucket brigade services as requested by the FDNY. He worked double shifts and slept in a Red Cross tent periodically over the course of six months,” said Nadel. As a result of James Nadel’s work during 9/11, he developed cancer. Nadel’s father “truly inspired and motivated [her] to pursue the role as Captain,” said Captain Nadel.
Within most firehouses, there is a strong sense of community and family; Nadel acknowledges that it is no different in the Flower Hill Hose Company. Being a part of a job where you put your life at risk for the sake of helping others creates a bond between coworkers that can often be compared to that of a familial bond. Captain Nadel said that she is “extremely grateful to be a part of this family.”
“The members of this department are the most dedicated and hard-working group. I have gained lots of brothers and sisters being a part of the PWFD,” said Captain Nadel. “I joined when I was 17 years old, a lot of me growing up and becoming the adult I am today is credited to my brothers and sisters in the PWFD.”
The safety of Captain Nadel’s department is one of the most important things to her as she takes over the role of Captain. “As a company, our number one priority is training. The importance of training cannot be overstated,” said Captain Nadel. “When safety is at risk, the competence of the responders should be paramount. When our community members call for help, they expect and deserve the very best from us. When we respond, I believe it is important to continue training and educate both our members and the community on fire safety,” said Captain Nadel.
Being the first female fire Captain of a line company is an important part of Port Washington’s local history. Captain Nadel was born and raised in Port Washington and “loves this town and everything it has offered [her],” said Captain Nadel. To be a part of local history is an honorable and humbling experience for Captain Nadel. She is “excited to be Captain, work alongside [her] fellow members of the department and most importantly be there for the residents of Port Washington when they’re in need of emergency services,” said Captain Nadel.
“Captain Nadel has most certainty broken the glass ceiling as she comes from the ranks of a very small handful of female firefighters in Port Washington,” said Former Chief Bollerman. Fire fighting is a male-dominated field that Captain Nadel has entered and moved up in the ranks to become captain flawlessly.
“I truly hope to inspire many other local women and young females to pursue careers in male-dominated fields,” said Captain Nadel. “My mother, Danielle Nadel, has always made it clear that as a female, I could accomplish anything I set my mind to. She has encouraged me and inspired me to break down boundaries and pursue any field regardless of gender,” said Captain Nadel. Women and young girls are taught about many women across history who have made significant impacts in gaining gender equality. While all of the stories are inspirational, to have a piece of history come from your own hometown makes the idea feel more attainable for local women and young girls.
“Flower Hill Hose Company, as well as the entirety of the Port Washington Fire Department, have been nothing but supportive, encouraging and respectful. They value me for my abilities and have never doubted me,” said Captain Nadel. “If the drive and passion are there, I believe women can succeed in any male-dominated field. That being said, come down and join!”

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