Rev. Ann Kansfield, 39, was sworn into the Canarsie section of the FDNY department on Tuesday, March 3. Kansfield now becomes the first female and first open lesbian sworn in as chaplain for a New York Fire Department facility.
“The old expression, ‘Sometimes the best man for the job is not a man,’ certainly suits us here,” FDNY Commissioner Daniel Nigro said. “I could say it’s a godsend for the department that Ann came to us. And we couldn’t be happier that she’s one of our chaplains now, our newest chaplain. And it’s a great step for the department.”
Kansfield will be the eighth chaplain in the department. Chaplains provide concealing to firefighters and department personnel, provide blessings and invocations and assist in notifying families when a firefighter is killed in the line of duty.
Kansfield will also be one of only three Protestant ministers.
“My whole ministry has been in environments that don’t look like me,” she said. “I live in a predominantly Catholic neighborhood – their faith is not like mine, and they don’t look like me. But that doesn’t mean I won’t have a ministry with them.”
Kansfield, who has short, spiky hair and gives cigarettes to the men repairing her apartment, doesn’t fit the stereotypical look of a minister either.
“We shouldn’t have to hide ourselves or worry about being judged,” the minster of the Greenpoint Reformed Church said.
Kansfield was sworn in by Nigro on a family Bible held by her wife Jennifer Aull. Their daughter, four-year-old Grace, was at the ceremony as well.
“[I am] excited to work in a department where everyone is able to be the people that God made them to be,” Mansfield said. “And a department that’s really looking to be diverse and include all people. I’ve dreamed about this for a long time but I never realized it would really be a possibility.”