She’s the Teflon probie.
Despite failing a required FDNY running test five times, Wendy Tapia was allowed to graduate from the Fire Academy and become a firefighter. On Dec. 2, she is taking the test for an unprecedented sixth time.
Tapia was one of only five women among 285 new firefighters who graduated from the FDNY’s Randall’s Island training academy on May 17.
The class was hailed as the most diverse group of rookies ever, all of them EMTs or paramedics seeking promotion to firefighter. She joined a group of just 35 women among the 11,000 Bravest.
But Tapia, 31, has yet to work a shift at her firehouse, Engine No. 316 in East Elmhurst, Queens, where she was assigned May 18.
At the end of 18 weeks of probationary training, Tapia failed to run 1¹/2 miles in 12 minutes without gear, as required by the academy. She blamed a foot injury.
The FDNY let her graduate anyway — and gave her five more deadlines over the past six months to pass the running test.
She failed all five times, insiders said.
Normally, probationary firefighters who fail the running test at the end of academy training don’t graduate — period. They flunk out but can join the next academy class, start over and get another chance to pass the course.
Tapia’s treatment has inflamed male and female colleagues alike.
“I don’t know how she got to graduate. It never should have happened,” a female firefighter told The Post. “You should not graduate if you can’t meet all the requirements — male, female, black or white.”
After graduation, instead of joining fellow firefighters in the field, Tapia went on medical leave from May 20 to June 10 to recover from her foot injury. She then went on light duty until July 2, reporting to FDNY headquarters in Downtown Brooklyn.
She “reports to work . . . wearing our uniform? F-?-KING JOKE!” one firefighter fumed on an online rant site.
Tapia returned to full duty — but was sent back to Randall’s Island for extra help.
“They put so many resources into training just her,” an insider said. “Every time she fails, she has a different excuse.”
Tapia failed the running test once in August, once in September and three times in October, said sources familiar with her situation.
In her last try, on Halloween, she clocked a 12:23, still too slow.
But FDNY Commissioner Salvatore Cassano gave Tapia another break after United Women Firefighters (UWF), a fraternal group of active and retired FDNY women, intervened to block her potential firing. They said she had an upper respiratory infection.
But suffering a cold is no excuse, the female firefighter said.
“We have to do our job in all types of situations,” she said. “If I go to a fire, what am going to do — tell the guys I’m staying out by the engine because I’m not feeling so good? It’s 100 percent unheard of.”
She said FDNY brass, under pressure from a court order to hire more minorities, “want their numbers — that’s all it is.”
But that does female firefighters no favors, she added.
“It’s making us look bad. It’s undermining everything we’ve strived for and achieved of our own accord,” she said.
Another insider said it also undermines confidence in the Fire Department.
“If someone’s life is hanging on the line, you only get one try. There’s no do-overs when it’s for real,” the insider said.
Tapia was “unavailable for an interview,” the FDNY said.
A spokesman said Tapia “successfully completed every requirement to graduate from the academy except the run — which she was unable to do after sustaining a work-related injury. We have provided her time to recover from her injury and will test her again on Dec. 2.”
He did not address Tapia’s five failed attempts since graduation.
Officials from UWF did not return calls or e-mails.
Republished with permission of The New York Post.