Molly Williams

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Molly Williams (fl. 1818) was the first known female firefighter in the United States.[1] An African American, she was held as a slave belonging to a New York City merchant by the name of Benjamin Aymar who was affiliated with the Oceanus Engine Company #11 in 1818. During her time in the company she was called Volunteer No. 11.[2] Williams made a distinguished presence in her sturdy work clothes of calico dress and checked apron and was said to be "as good a fire laddie as many of the boys."[3] Her service was noted particularly during the blizzard of 1818. Male firefighters were scarce due to an influenza outbreak, but Williams took her place with the men on the dragropes and pulled the pumper to the fire through the deep snow.

When asked, Williams always replied: "‘I belongs to ole ‘Leven; I allers runs wid dat ole bull-gine.’"[4]

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