Daughter of 9/11 hero among FDNY graduates

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NEW YORK (PIX11) - New York's Finest added 280 firefighters Tuesday, among them Josephine Smith, who lost her father in the 9/11 attacks.

"The past 13 years I've made it a mission to make sure that I fulfill my dream and become a New York City Firefighter and follow in my father's footsteps," said Smith.

Her father, Firefighter Kevin Smith, was a member of HazMat 1 who died on 9/11, making Josephine the first female legacy to join the FDNY.

"Josephine, out of that tragedy devoted herself to service, steps forward today to devote herself to service," said Mayor Bill de Blasio. "She is one of four incredible and impressive women in this class and we thank them all."

Tuesday's graduation brings the total number of women in the FDNY to 44 - the most to ever work for the department.  But it's one of the lowest percentages of women firefighters in any major city in the country.

Smith says she's always known she wanted to be a firefighter.  Ever since she climbed on the trucks at her father's firehouse when she was a little girl.  She says she thinks of her father every day and now carries a picture of him in her hat.  So while Smith was sad her father couldn't be there to celebrate, family members say they have no doubt she'll carry on her father's legacy with the department.

"Oh my God, she's so strong-minded.  Oh God is she strong-minded," said Smith's mother Angelina Clay.  "She sets her mind to something... she's got a lot of will."

Despite the fact that women still make up less than one percent of firefighters in the FDNY, the United Women's Firefighters group called Tuesday a step in the right direction.