Pivoting and Performing in the Face of Adversity with Seankelly McCauley, Philadelphia Fire Department


In this episode of the Leadership Under Fire Humanizing the Narrative Podcast, host Patti Murphy is joined by Philadelphia Firefighter Seankelly McCauley. Sean comes from a family of FDNY firefighters, and it was always assumed that he’d follow in his father and great grandfather’s footsteps by achieving his lifelong dream of joining the FDNY. 

In 2007, Sean proudly took the Department’s entrance exam and began preparing for his FDNY career. Despite his enthusiasm to learn the job, physical abilities and willingness to serve the City of New York, Sean’s dreams were derailed in 2010 when a federal judge ruled that the FDNY entrance exam 6019 had a “disparate impact” on minority candidates and was not a true measure of the abilities required for entry-level firefighters. So began years of ligation, and waiting and worrying to see if he’d ever get the chance to serve the FDNY as a Firefighter.

Eventually, in 2016, Sean made the hard decision to leave New York City and joined the Philadelphia Fire Department where he serves today. In 2022, he was given the opportunity to attend Leadership Under Fire’s Optimizing Human Performance Under Pressure Program with the Cherry Hill NJ Fire Department. Sean remains a student of the job and hopeful about the future of the American fire service.