QUEENS, N.Y. (PIX11) — Traditional African drummers kicked off Wednesday night’s festivities at Queens Borough Hall. The Vulcan Society is the 83-year-old organization that represents Black FDNY members. On Wednesday night, the group not only celebrated Black History Month, they held a swearing in ceremony for their newly elected executive board, led by their first female president, firefighter Regina Wilson. Mayor Eric Adams swore in the board.

“It is an honor the members have entrusted in me to lead them. It’s a humbling experience,” said Wilson. “To now have the opportunity to run an organization that is leading the charge on trying to get equality for women and people of color.”

When Wilson joined the FDNY 24 years ago, she was only the 12th African American woman to do so in its history. She remains one of only 148 female firefighters currently on the job in a department of 10,000 firefighters. Wilson said that’s just under 1.5% of the total. She has always been a trailblazer and wants to encourage other young women of color to join the profession.

“As a woman I felt being stronger and felt more confident in myself being in a job most people don’t think I can do and they see me doing every day,” said Wilson.

While she is the first female to lead the Vulcan Society, the organization was founded in 1940 and has long advocated for Black firefighters. In 2002, the Vulcan Society won a racial justice lawsuit against the city. The $98 million settlement led to new hiring practices and reforms. Championing for the recruitment and training of young minority members remains one of its key causes.

In addition to the 10,000 firefighters, there are also 4,000 EMS members and 3,000 civilian employees. With roughly 17,000 employees, it is the largest fire department in the nation. But only 7% are minorities.

Dr. Kwame Cooper is the FDNY’s chief diversity inclusion officer. “The really important thing is to plant the seed at a young age and let them see diversity in the department with regard to people of color and when they see themselves, that’s a magical thing that begins to happen,” said Cooper.