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Jamaica street co-named in honor of Firefighter Cecelia Owens Cox, one of the first women in FDNY ranks

Jun. 27, 2023 By Bill Parry

A street corner in Jamaica was co-named in honor of Firefighter Cecelia Owens Cox, one of the original 41 women firefighters hired to serve in the FDNY in 1982.

City Council Speaker Adrienne Adams and Queens Borough President Donovan Richards joined members of her family and FDNY officials at the intersection of Sutter Avenue and the Van Wyck Expressway on June 22, when Cox was commemorated for breaking the glass ceilings as the first woman firefighter assigned to a ladder company and the first female firefighter to become a ladder company chauffeur.

Photo courtesy of Adams’ office

“Firefighter Cecelia Owens Cox broke barriers for women, especially Black women, and carved a path for them to follow in her footsteps,” Adams said. “She was not only a pioneer and trailblazer, but also a mentor and activist who fought for change in the FDNY. Her courageous leadership defines what it means to be a member of New York’s Bravest.”

An advocate for change, Cox was a member of the United Women Firefighters and the Vulcan Society.

Photos courtesy of Adams’ office

“As one of the first female firefighters in the FDNY’s history, Cecelia Owens Cox was a true trailblazer and is well deserving of this street co-naming in her native Jamaica,” Richards said. “Queens is proud to have been Cecelia’s home borough, and I know her legacy of public service will continue to inspire the next generations of young leaders. Thank you, Speaker Adams and all who made this celebration of Cecelia’s life possible.”

Photo courtesy of Adams’ office

Cox served the FDNY for 23 years before retiring in 2005. ⁣She was laid to rest in November 2019 at age 68 and is survived by her husband, two daughters, two grandchildren, her mother and siblings.

“Firefighter Owens Cox’s legacy lives on today in all of the women firefighters who are extending the pathway she first laid,” Adams said. “I’m proud to honor Firefighter Cecelia Owens Cox’s life and her many contributions with a street sign in the community where her legacy began.”

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