Firefighter exam deadline extended

NY Daily News - October 16, 2006

by JONATHAN LEMIRE

The FDNY is giving would-be firefighters three extra weeks to apply to take the entrance exam in an eleventh-hour effort to boost the number of minority-group members taking the test, the Daily News has learned.

Candidates now have until Nov. 3 to sign up - the latest move in an uphill effort to increase the diversity of a department that is 91% white.

In May, with the department's hiring practices under investigation by the Justice Department, the FDNY launched a multimillion-dollar ad campaign to lure more minority-group firefighters. In August, it relaxed its hiring requirements.

But an FDNY source said yesterday the number of all applications, including those from minority-group candidates, is down when compared with the 2002 test.

Fire Commissioner Nicholas Scoppetta is expected to officially announce the extension today - and reveal a change to the physical portion of the firefighter exam.

"We want to give everyone in the city an opportunity to file," Scoppetta told worshipers yesterday at St. Paul Community Baptist Church in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn.

"We want the Fire Department to be as diverse as the city and representative of the communities we are serving."

While the number of minority-group members who have expressed interest in joining the FDNY has increased, that has not yet translated into more blacks and Latinos registering to take the Jan. 20 exam, officials said.

Applicants now need only 15 college credits - down from 30 - or six months of work experience. Candidates with two years of military service also qualify.

The Citywide Administrative Services Department, which runs the exam, declined to comment on the exact number of applications.

"The numbers are low," said Paul Washington, head of the Vulcan Society, which represents the city's black firefighters. "If the numbers of black firefighters don't increase, this campaign hasn't worked."