FDNY di­ver­sity turns a cor­ner


NEW YORK CITY’s fire­fighter exam drew more test-tak­ers than ever be­fore, in­clud­ing a record num­ber of women and a ma­jor­ity of hope­fuls who were peo­ple of color, Fire Com­mis­sioner Daniel Ni­gro said Mon­day.

“Our un­prece­dented re­cruit­ment cam­paign has suc­ceeded in draw­ing in­ter­est in a fire­fight­ing ca­reer from more young men and women than ever be­fore,” Ni­gro said in a state­ment. “And our goal to ex­pand and fur­ther di­ver­sify the ap­pli­cant pool by at­tract­ing more women and peo­ple of color has also achieved record-break­ing suc­cess.”

Ni­gro said 46,305 took the 2017 exam in Septem­ber and Oc­to­ber, a depart­ment record. And for the first time ever, peo­ple of color com­prised a ma­jor­ity of the test-tak­ers — 26,018 peo­ple, or 56% of those who took the exam. More women, 4,181 took the test than ever be­fore, more than dou­ble the num­ber of the pre­vi­ous exam, which was given in 2012.

Num­bers were up across the board, es­pe­cially among Asian test-tak­ers, whose par­tic­i­pa­tion in­creased 55%. Par­tic­i­pa­tion also in­creased among black (39%), His­panic (29%) and Na­tive Amer­i­can (35%)test-tak­ers.

The num­ber of white test-tak­ers de­creased by 11%.

The FDNY put $10 mil­lion into its re­cruit­ment cam­paign, staffing more than 10,200 events across the city dur­ing the 18 months be­fore the most re­cent exam.

The depart­ment pre­vi­ously set­tled a mas­sive suit al­leg­ing dis­crim­i­na­tion against blacks and His­pan­ics ap­ply­ing to be­come fire­fight­ers, agree­ing in 2014 to pay $98 mil­lion and re­vamp its hir­ing prac­tices.

Regina Wil­son, a Brooklyn fire­fighter and pres­i­dent of the Vul­can So­ci­ety, an or­ga­ni­za­tion of black fire­fight­ers, said there was still an at­tri­tion prob­lem.

“These num­bers are good, but they are not great,” Wil­son said. “We had roughly 20,000 black can­di­dates sign up for the test, but ap­prox­i­mately 11,000 took it. The same is true for women. When you have 9,000 sign up, but only 4,000 take the test, that’s a lot of dropoff.

“While the FDNY is talk­ing about the $10 mil­lion it put into this re­cruit­ment ef­fort, there’s still a lot more that can be done, es­pe­cially to ad­dress the at­tri­tion rate.”

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