Firefighter overcomes adversity to become trailblazer in the FDNY

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BROOKLYN -

Regina Wilson is breaking barriers, facing racism and putting out fires as one of New York's bravest.

Wilson, who has been with the FDNY for 20 years, was only the 12th African-American woman hired to the force.

She tells News 12 she was recruited by the FDNY in the 90s, saying the department told her they wanted to attract African-American women.

She began her journey to the FDNY by passing the written and physical exams.

Wilson was placed at Engine 219 on Dean Street. As she began her career, she says she felt destined to make a difference, but knew racism would be part of the experience.

"Hearing the "N" word, watching and hearing racial pictures on the wall or getting letters from this racist group within fire department that would send thousands of faxes and have them fax it all over the fire house," says Wilson.

She persevered through the emotional times, proving her bravery while responding to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

Wilson later received a trailblazer award and became the first female president of the Vulcan Society, an organization of black firefighters, from January 2015 to January 2019.

"No one can ever tell me that I will fail. I passed one of the most rigorous physical jobs there is. Tell me that I don't belong, I passed, and I succeeded and 20 years later I am still here," says Wilson.

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