Courtesy FDNY

On October 20, 2021, Joann Diaz became the first-ever Latina fire lieutenant in New York City Fire Department’s 156-year history. 

Diaz is a Nuyorican Latina who split her childhood between Puerto Rico and the Bronx. She has been a firefighter for 18 years, joining the FDNY on September 14, 2003. “I became interested in joining the FDNY when I noticed there was little to no female representation,” she said in a statement to

“I joined the FDNY because I wanted to demonstrate to my peers that women can serve here and I wanted to inspire other women to join the FDNY.”

When Diaz began her firefighting career 18 years ago, she was one of only a handful of women at the Bronx firehouse where she worked, and the only Latina.

“I was the only one when I came on the job, the only Hispanic woman,” she told the NY Daily News. “And one of only 27 women. It’s very exciting and nerve-racking, and I’m ready to demonstrate to my peers that women are capable to work as lieutenants and to inspire others to move forward in the department.”

Lieutenant Joann Diaz says it was a Broadway musical that made her realize she was just as capable as any man.

“As a child, I remember seeing the play, ‘Annie Get Your Gun’ off-Broadway and the song, ‘Anything You Can Do (I Can Do Better),’ by Irving Berlin has always stayed with me,” she told

“I grew up admiring women who defied the odds and felt I was destined to do the same.”

Her three children, along with her family and her colleagues, cheered for Diaz as she walked across the stage at the New York City Fire Department’s Promotions Ceremony that took place last week.

Diaz praised the transformative friendships she has made throughout her career. “I have been a Firefighter for 18 years and assigned to Engine 79 my entire career. The camaraderie that I have experienced as a member of the department and being the first Hispanic female to be promoted to Lieutenant is a dream come true.”

Lieutenant Diaz also thanked her family, friends, and mentors for helping her achieve such a monumental accomplishment.

At the ceremony, Diaz said she considers her fellow firefighters her brothers. “I heard the screams of my family, my brothers, who I’ve grown to love very much. My babies. It’s an honor. I feel very lucky,” said Diaz.

“It’s a proud moment as a Latina. I hope that me being here today inspires other women as well as Latinas to do the same.”