Excerpts from ABC7Chicago.com:
Some of the 70 candidates graduating from the Chicago Fire Academy are making history … women in their 40s and 50s. After completing the academically challenging and physically grueling six-month training, none area as joyful as those who waited 20 years for this. These strong women in their 40s and 50s holding their own with the younger candidates.
Twelve of the candidates graduating Tuesday applied to be firefighters in 1995. The women were part of two class action lawsuits: one for racial discrimination and another for gender discrimination. With the lawsuit settlements, they finally got their chances to be firefighters.
After graduation the women will be on probation for a year as candidate firefighters. Some may not be working for very long because, per department policy, the mandatory retirement age for firefighters is 63. Per the lawsuit settlement, when the women do retire they will have the seniority as if they had started working years ago.
There were 52 who were part of a class action suit claiming that Chicago Fire Department testing discriminated against women. Not everyone was interested in proceeding and some did not pass the tests. Twelve women remain and will now represent the class working for the CFD.