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NY’s Bravest Wants More African-American, Hispanic Recruits

New ad campaign comes as racial discrimination suit over FDNY recruitment policy continues to move forward.

The FDNY announced a recruitment plan this week that includes a $1 million print and radio ad campaign to boost minority recruitment—even as a lawsuit alleging systemic discrimination against African-Americans and Hispanics continues to move through the courts.

The campaign will focus on the benefits of firefighting, which include up to $100,000 salary, generous pensions and four weeks of vacation per year.

The FDNY will also revamp its written placement exam.

The measures are a response to a 2009 ruling by Brooklyn federal court Judge Nicholas Garaufis, who found that the written examination had “discriminatory effects” because black and Hispanic applicants had disproportionately failed the 85 question multiple-choice exam.

While 2.6 percent of the FDNY was black and 3.7 percent Hispanic in 2002, City Planning statistics from the same year counted 25 percent of the city as black and 27 percent Hispanic, according to the ruling. 

News of the changes has rekindled the interest of FDNY hopefuls.

Raymond Bethancourt, a 25-year-old applicant of Hispanic descent applied to take the test in 2009 and never heard back.

“Now that the test has been corrected, I feel that I have a better chance of getting in, even if I’m in the minority, that can change,” said Bethancourt.

“I just want to become a fireman, I always did,” he added.

Other applicants felt that the new changes were not relevant to the FDNY hiring process. Joseph Yonkers, 27, of Polish decent, has been waiting for this day his entire life.

“The bottom line is that we need more firemen and less politics,” said Yonkers. “We all bleed the same color, I don’t see what all the fuss is about,” he added. 

Other prospective candidates were more skeptical of the new test.

Sal Khan, a resident of Bayside, Queens, questioned exactly how minority applicants would get a boost from the new test by paraphrasing Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

“Applicants should be judged not by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character,” he said.

The filing period to take the test is open until Sept. 15. For more information, click here.

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