Judge: FDNY Can Hire for First Time in 5 Years

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The federal judge overseeing the effort to diversify the nation's largest fire department has approved a new entrance exam that will allow the FDNY to hire new firefighters for the first time in five years.

Judge Nicholas Garaufis ruled Friday the department's most recent entrance exam was not biased against minorities and could be used. The decision comes after years of court battles and strongly-worded opinions from the judge who called the Fire Department of New York "a stubborn bastion of white male privilege."

The city and fire department lauded the approval of the test and say they expect more minorities to be hired. The department is down about 650 firefighters since 2007.

Both the city, and lawyers for the Vulcan Society, the group that originally filed a discrimination suit against the city, said they’re happy with the decision.

In a statement, Fire Commissioner Sal Cassano said the ruling will allow the department to fill 650 open spots.

“The FDNY’s strong commitment to diversity was evident in our recruitment campaign for this exam where 46 percent of the test takers were people of color – the same overall percentage of minorities at the top of this list,” Cassano said.

Darius Charney, an attorney representing the Vulcan Society, also applauded the ruling.

"We're very pleased with the judge's decision to certify an FDNY entrance exam which, for the first time ever, is both a fair and valid measure of the skills and abilities needed to be a New York City firefighter," he said.

Annmarie Fertoli contributed reporting