She has been one of the city’s few female firefighters for more than a decade and now she’s Miss March — the first woman featured in the FDNY Calendar of Heroes.
Danae Mines, an 11-year veteran, said she’s always wanted to be one of the 13 smoke-eaters featured in the yearly pictorial, but was told the honor was reserved for men only.
“I was told that it was all guys,” Mines, who is assigned to Engine Co. 60 in the South Bronx, told the Daily News.
“They said if I made it in the calendar, I would look like a pinup girl.”
But when she saw an open call for FDNY firefighters posted on the wall of her firehouse last year, she decided it was finally time to break down the gender barriers — but on her own terms.
“I wasn’t going to let anyone tell me I couldn’t do what I wanted to do,” she said. “I was determined.”
Mines admitted feeling a little intimidated standing in line with more than 100 men to audition for a calendar traditionally known to showcase shirtless firemen.
“I was a little scared,” said Mines. “I was the only female.” But Mines is used to facing adversity head-on.
Her dreams of becoming a firefighter began when she was just 10 years old after one of the city’s Bravest visited her school to talk about the job. But her family told her that she should consider another career, because only men joined the FDNY.
“I had absolutely no support from my family when I wanted to come on the job,” she said.
Mines became an EMT and, despite her family’s requests, accepted a promotion to become a firefighter in 2003. And she hasn’t been able to stop her relatives from gloating about her ever since.
“Once I graduated (from the Fire Academy), it was the complete opposite,” she said. “They could not stop bragging.”
Despite being one of 41 women firefighters in the department, Mines said she’s faced with no more challenges than any other man on the job.
“I always go above and beyond, because that’s my job,” she said.
“When I step foot into the firehouse, I have to be able to tell myself that I’m willing to risk my life to save someone else.”
In her calendar shot, Mines was modestly dressed in a gray tank top and red suspenders with an equipment belt around her olive drab pants.
The pictures were all taken by nightlife photographer Patrick McMullan. All proceeds from the sale of the $17.95 calendar go directly to the FDNY Foundation to promote fire safety education for residents and provide equipment and training for firefighters.
But that’s not the only reason Mines was happy to be in the calendar.
“I wanted my picture in the calendar so that young girls and young women can see me and know that they can do this job,” she said.