FDNY Lawsuit

Thursday, January 14, 2010

A federal judge ruled yesterday that the FDNY intentionally discriminated against black applicants by continuing to use a written exam. Sheila Foster, professor of law and associate dean for academic affairs at Fordham Law School, explains the court's decision.


Sheila Foster

Comments [65]

Roger from Brooklyn

I retired from the NYFD in2002 after 26 years ,what the problem is not the race issue but the work issue.Black ,Jewish ,Asian peoples are not inclined take this job.It is more prestigious to be a Police Officer in certain communities . As for the recrutiment program most of the guys in that unit are black ,make unlimited overtime and try to get laid not to further any cause .It is all a scam ,maybe we don't have enough Black Judges ?

Jun. 08 2010 10:36 AM
Chris Fenyo from new york city

I was hired as a fireman in 2001 off the 1999 written test. You can link to it at the NYTimes site. Too bad they decided not to link to it on NPR. Because then everyone could see Q15, so ridiculously simple that a 4th grader could answer it. The judge says other cities have higher % of blacks. They do, because they used quotas under fed pressure. The sad thing is that all of the black men and women already firefighters will be sullied by this. Now when I work with a black guy that I don't know, I'm going to wonder, did this guy get the job like I did, or is he one of those guys who was so stupid he had to sue? I mean, you really, really, really were not smart if you failed the 99 test. It's a HUGE mistake. The department is making great strides in recruitment- that's where the failure had been- now they're setting the whole thing back to 1970.

Feb. 08 2010 03:26 PM
terry from manhattan

another absurd B.L interview,way to get both sides of the story.Let me see, we have as guests two liberals with the same opinion.May I recommend deputy chief Paul mannix next time.I kept on hearing how the City is 25% black,I'm sorry,African American,please look and do an expose on dept of corrections 90% minority ,traffic police an just about every other city agency.

Feb. 02 2010 02:41 PM
marianna from NY

Professor Foster serves on the Environmental Law Committee of the New York City Bar Association.

Sheila Foster
Fordham School of Law
New York, NY
213.636 7771

Jan. 30 2010 11:42 PM
marianna from NY

This is a pathetic attempt to get money and a job in a failing economy ... It is a racist suit in itself, it undermines the smart blacks that were able to pass, it falsely accuses whites of being racists ... It all comes down to this ... IF YOU ARE TOO STUPID TO PASS THE TEst, IF YOU ARE TOO WEAK TO PASS THE PHYSICAL (WOMEN INCLUDED) THEN YOU CANNOT BECOME A FIREMAN(WOMAN) I-T I-S V-E-R-Y S-I-M-P-L-E ... No matter what color or sex you are, those are the standards, they should not be tampered with, or changeD, learn study and pass ... I am so sick and tired of hearing unidentified racist accusations, GET OVER IT ALREADY, THERE ARE NO MORE EXCUSES !

Jan. 30 2010 11:33 PM
Dan from Washington Heights

D from LI:
That is unsubstantiated hearsay. I do not believe that for one second. If he was told he had an irregular heart beat he would have had the ability to see his own physician and challenge the results. My white co-worker was rejected because he was overweight. He missed that academy class, went home, lost a bunch of weights and came back for the next class which he made because he worked hard and lost the weight.

Nepotism plays no part in this blind hiring process. All are playing fair.

The exam used for the Dept. of Corrections is IDENTICAL in format. How come that dept. is only 2% white?

Jan. 27 2010 10:36 AM
D from LI

Nepotism is a strong factor....but don't forget people, this is a CIVIL SERVICE JOB!!!!!
There are plenty of races that make up other Civil Service agencies in NYC, except for the FDNY.
My brown friend scored a 100 on the physical and 100 on the written and already works as a civil servant for the City of New York. When it came to the medical, he was given a false start on the treadmill and was told he had an irregular heartbeat! He does not! That ended it for him! 6 months later two white friends of mine were hired without incident.

Jan. 26 2010 06:33 PM
willie from Park Slope

The black man who called in and said he scored in the 90's and 100 on the physical test is full of BS. Total lie. The results are all public record. You would think he would remember when he took the test. Pure and unadulterated LIE and idiots believe him. It's a lost cause.

Jan. 23 2010 11:34 PM
willie from Park Slope

Robbie from Brooklyn,

You must be a little simple. Anyone who takes the test receives a results of exam card. It is all public record. You just have to have 1/2 a brain and call Dept of Citywide Administrative services for your results. So many people are miserable with their failed lives they have to bash the greatest Firefighters in the world. To do anything in life, you need motivation, determination and hard work. That is unless you give minimal or no effort, and cry after-wards it's because of the color of your skin. Do what is needed to pass and you will. You may not be # 1 but if you wait your turn you can make it. We all have rights as Americans, and that includes ALL Whites, not a percentage of them.

Jan. 23 2010 11:13 PM
Micahel Stack from St. James, NY

Anyone want to educate themselves on race in this country read, THE END OF RACISM by Dinesh D'Souza. The Feds, the Vulcan Society & the Center for Constitutional rights ought to read Mr. D'Souza's book!

Jan. 23 2010 11:24 AM
ron from nyc

please stop already,the whole basis of this case is laughable at best.i just listened to the show and was sick to my stomach listening to so called educated people trying to vilify their existance by trying to come up with a reason for the lawsuit.there is no reason other than black people don't want the job,that was evident in the last test as the city bent over backwards to hire minorities.the city flooded the black neighborhoods with applications,hired numerous black firfighters on overtime to man the recruitment tables,ads,billboards you name it the city did it.the city even went as far as to pick up applicants at their homes and drive them to the test sites.the tests are not racist,the fdny as a whole is not racist,it is the fact that it is not just another job,it is a special calling,a desire to do a job that helps people,to put yourself in harms way knowing that you might not make it home that requires strength and bravery when put in certain face the unknown.not everyone is a poet,a doctor,a lawyer or president.some are just humbled to be firefighters.

Jan. 23 2010 11:03 AM
Anthony from Rockland, NY

I don't understand how this judge and others believe that this test is not relevant to the job. I think that people are under the impression that fighting fires in NYC doesn't require too much thinking. On the contrary, firefighters in NYC need to able to make quick decisions, think independently, be proficient with the use of tools, and familiar with the numerous types of building construction and the many varied methods of fighting fires.
There is no perfect exam, but the exams in question seem to be relevant and in no way discriminatory.

Jan. 20 2010 04:16 AM
Dan from Washington Heights

Sher from Brewster:

The awarding of 5 extra points for NYC residents is in place at the urging of minority groups. It is intended to help NYC residents gain an edge in the testing process. As for legecy points, do you not think it is right that a child left fatherless or motherless should be helped a bit should they decide to follow in the foot steps of a parent who made the supreme sacrifice? Either way, this is normally a very small percentage of applicants, thank god.

There is NO room for nepotism in the hiring process. It is blind. You take a test, you take an agility and both are graded without any human intervention.

I am on this job and I do not come from a family of firefighters, nor do I come from an area populated by firefighters. I did not know one single firefighter while growing up, yet I managed to find out about the job and where and when to take the exam. No one helped me and I was able to get on without having the NYC resident credit.

*Firefighters are permitted to live in NYC and West., Putnum, Rockland, Orange, Nassau and Suffolk.

Jan. 15 2010 12:09 PM
gaetano catelli from downtown manhattan

a number of people have posted that the schools are the problem (though not the teacher's union).

many more have claimed that the test is the problem (but without citing examples).

a few morons have asserted that fire fighters aren't intelligent.

but, no one has asked whether the absence of a father in the home is having a "disparate impact" on test-taking, not to mention other life outcomes.

Jan. 15 2010 02:09 AM
sher from brewster

If one visits the FDNY website and searches under "Jobs and Employment," one learns that applicants can get "points" on their exam for things other than passing the written portion. Living in NYC earns points, and "legacy points" are given to applicants who had a FDNY parent die while in the line of duty. With serious and all due respect to the heroes who have sacrificed their lives, I find it nonetheless a bit odd that extra points are given in this manner. The comments on this page regarding nepotism seem to bear examination...
PS: I am in Putnam County...FDNY firefighters live here .....this is not supposed to be allowed according to the FDNY website...

Jan. 14 2010 11:46 PM
Jane from Bronx

What I did not hear in this interview was the percentage of black applicants on average who take the test, only the percentage now in the FDNY.
Example: If, say, 45% of applicants were black and only 3% passed, that is an issue definitely. However, if 5% of applicants were black and 3% passed, so?
Enlighten us with genuine statistics next time Brian, because honestly, the whole interview lacked specifics. How many Chinese firefighters? Mexican or Russian firefighters? Indian firefighters? And if there are few, is it because they are discriminated against, just not interested in joining, or couldn't pass the test? We'd like to know more.

Jan. 14 2010 09:34 PM
Dan from Washington Heights

As for the <10% representation of blacks and Hispanics in the FDNY, this might be a problem and I emphasize the word might. The chief goal of any agency, while hiring, should be to get the best candidate for the job. Surely I don't deserve to play for the Knicks because I want to and the team doesn't accurately represent the racial make-up of the city. NYC Transit and Dept. of Sanitation use similar open competitive exams, yet their members are predominantly of minority background. Why is this so? It's simple, there is no city civil service agency whose job offering is as coveted as that which is offered by the FDNY. People travel from around the country simply for an opportunity to get on this job.

How might we better open the doors to minority candidates? The answer is education and information. Allocate the appropriate funds for advertising and test preparation courses (both of which occurred prior to the most recent exam). That is the only way to maintain integrity in the hiring procedure. Although a written exam might hold some inherent flaws, it is assuredly the most gender/race blind method of vetting twenty of thirty thousand applicants for approximately two thousand positions.

NYTimes link to the 1999 FDNY Open Competitive Exam:
Please review and decide for yourself.

In conclusion, I am not the least bit concerned with the color of a co-worker's skin nor their gender. All that I care about is that person's ability to be relied upon in unimaginable conditions. My life is routinely in the hands of the person riding across from me in that big red truck. Don't I deserve the best? Don't they? Lastly, but certainly not least, don't you as city residents deserve the best when it comes to your lifesaving work force?

Jan. 14 2010 09:17 PM
Dan from Washington Heights

First off, Grace, I resent your comment. I am a fireman with the FDNY and I, along with the vast majority of my brother and sister firemen, have a 4 year college degree. A few have obtained masters degrees and I am familiar with several members who have a law degree and at least one M.D. I myself took a 50% pay-cut and severely limited my earning potential because I so badly wanted to do this job. I am not alone in having made that decision.

I work in a firehouse where the work force is comprised of white, black, Hispanic and female members. While white men make up the majority, I am confident in everyone due to the simple fact that we ALL passed an open competitive exam that offered each one of us an equal opportunity. Every member from every race, gender and background on this job can hold their head up high knowing that they achieved on a level playing field. On more than one occasion I've had minority members of the FDNY tell me how embarrassing the Vulcan Society claims are and what an affront to their intelligence it is.

I would like to think that after reading through the written exams in question we might all agree that it is not racially biased. It was found to be so for no other reason than the results being unbalanced. If a question read, "What color is the sky" and too many minority candidates got that question wrong, that question could be deemed discriminatory. That is the nightmare that is the disparate impact clause.


Jan. 14 2010 09:17 PM
Grace from Union Square

No disrespect here, but typically Firefighters don't appear to be intellectually superior beings. And I say this to suggest that by inferring that black applicants/test takers are intellectually inferior - is - well - RACIST. It's easy to ignore the cold hard fact that only 3% of firefighters in NYC are black against comparable numbers nationally - as issue that hasn't been raised. It does suggest that there is something deeper going on within these tests that meet the eye.

Jan. 14 2010 05:38 PM
Milt Robertson from New York, NY

Looking at the FDNY examination. Where is the memory booklet that is required to take the test? I am and have curious about this test for some time.

Jan. 14 2010 04:02 PM

One more point: if the purpose of the suit is to achieve a firefighting force that reflects the demographics of NYC, what about Jewish firefighters? NYC has one of the largest Jewish populations in the nation (perhaps the largest). Should we check whether they are appropriately represented by the FDNY?

Jan. 14 2010 12:45 PM
Robbie from Brooklyn

Here is prima facie white privilege. Let's insist on looking at the test and the test takers at the exclusion of the test-givers. Why not? They're obviously above it all, unbiased and pure to be FDNY administrators, right?

Not so.

Any series of qualifiers, on tests or otherwise, implicit or explicit, that results in a 90% outcome of single racial group success is a joke in terms of intellectual content let alone simple fairness of those qualifiers.

That's WHY the ruling was made and it rightly should.

Jan. 14 2010 12:41 PM
Romesh Banerjee from Rego Park

I, too, almost missed the main argument, which is that because the exam is a WRITTEN examination, it is biased. The question, then, is can firefighters be tested any other way? It's true it does require extensive READING to comprehend situations in the questions, but this cannot be a racial bias. One can say it requires excessive COPREHENSION skills but not that it's racially biased. And, incidentally, the sample test question paper posted on NY Times is not for the entrance exam but a promotion exam.

Jan. 14 2010 12:40 PM
RN from New York

Written tests can easily be manipulated. When I came here in the 90s, I was an English RN with over 10 years experience, yet I was having inexplicable difficulty with the NCLEX test. I went to an accredited university to do a review course which was no help at all. I then found an independent test preparation centre that immediately explained how the test was skewed against foreign workers, and they had the staggering stats to back it up. Within a week my scores went from 16% to 96%, I kid you not. BTW re: comment 25 - having had dealings with FFs on both sides of the Atlantic, I can say that the nonsense about carrying a 300lb man 100 yards is total BS that very effectively bars women. I have yet to meet any male FF who was actually required to perform this assessment, and doubt that any of the smoking, beer swilling guys of my acquaintance could do it independently without damaging themselves.

Jan. 14 2010 12:33 PM
Edward from brooklyn

I have a Masters Degree from Columbia, and this test gives me pause. It obviously is a test that one has to be "groomed" to take, so that the ones you approve (relatives)succeed.

Jan. 14 2010 12:22 PM
Matt from Inwood

This is a test of recognition, and to a much lesser extent critical thinking and visual-spatial perception. Is it in any way predictive of a firefighter's likely performance? I seriously doubt it, and would like to see evidence that it is. So, I would have to agree with the prosecution that it is essentially a test of reading and test-taking ability. This being said, isn't it important for a firefighter to be able to read? The screens out the under-educated, people with learning disabilities, and people with general cognitive deficits. Some of these people would probably be fine at the job, and some wouldn't.

Jan. 14 2010 12:06 PM
rob from Inwood

It's the culture that discriminates.
Until they started posting the test information on the internet, the only people who knew about the test were families of firefighters.
Volunteers firehouses outside of NYC would have study sessions. And you need to study fire fighting procedures to score well on this test. If your father was a firefighter, you knew when to file for the test, and what to study!!
If you're a minority, living in the city and not having any idea about fighting fires, how and what to study for the test or even the process of filing and being hired by the Dept, you're already behind!!
Now they hire from EMS, which is mostly minorities. EMS take the same test but listed differently from civilians, and minority EMS score better than civilians bc they KNOW how to prepare for the test.

Jan. 14 2010 11:56 AM
Derek from The Bronx

As an NYC firefighter, I have to say that I find many of the comments above completely frustrating...

The vast majority of NYC firefighters care about one thing related to their fellow firefighters: that they know their job and can perform it extremely well under very difficult circustances. Black, white, yellow, we don't care. If you are good at your job and are a person of good character, you will be respected in the firehouse.

It seems that the relevant question should be: Should the city's top priority in hiring be that the workforce be diverse and reflect the racial makeup of the community, or that they hire the most capable firefighters that they can get? It should seem obvious that if someone finds themself in a life-threatening situation, they really don't care about the race of the person coming to get them.

What many don't realize is that fighting the most serious types of fires, which we don't do every day, is a very, very difficult and life-threatening task. The city owes it to those that it asks to put their lives on the line doing this job,that they try to hire the most capable people it can get.

In my 16 years as an NYC firefighter, I've been to too many funerals. Our top prioity in this process should be to ensure the public and it's firefighters can be as safe as they possibly can. Lowering the standards in an effort to ensure a diverse workforce is a recipe for disaster.

Jan. 14 2010 11:45 AM
bernard joseph from brooklyn

it's real simple-
it's nepotism not racism. i know it first hand.

Jan. 14 2010 11:23 AM
Hannah Seeger from Manhattan

The solution is not to dumb down the firefighter test, but improve the educational system that does not teach most students- trapped in schools that don't teach them the cognitive and reasoning skills, etc. - enough for them to pass it.

Firefighters have our lives in their hands and making it easier to become one, merely for PC reasons won't ultimately do anything but foster calamities.

Focus on the board of Ed, Brian, and why they run a system that doesn't prepare more than 3% of black applicants to qualify for this important profession.

That's where you can help.

Jan. 14 2010 11:18 AM

The NYTimes had an article about this last summer with a link to the "discriminatory test". This is the link:

This is the article link:

The questions are passages that describe firefighting situations, followed by multiple choice questions. The answers to the questions are in the passages. All they have to do is read and understand the passages. Firefighting does not involve only teamwork. Firefighers must be able to learn about and understand scientific information about the composition of fires and other aspects associated with the situation. If the candidates can't understand what they read on a test, then they will not be able to comprehend and learn the coursework during training. It's that simple. How does one design a written passage with questions that intentionally discriminates against blacks and latinos? Are these questions written in a special language that minorities do not understand? So now, my tax dollars will be used to reward illiteracy if the city is required to provide back pay to rejected candidates? I hope Bloomberg appeals this all the way to the supreme court.

I'm sure that firefighting ability is not limitied to throwing buckets of water at a fire. Cognitive ability in the form of reading comprhenesion, analysis of a situation and reasoning are as relevant to firefighting as other skills. They must exercise cognitive judgment during fires.

Jan. 14 2010 11:09 AM
bernard joseph from brooklyn

the truth- i am not a racist. and what does bensonhurst have to do with anything? how does this discrimination work in written form? this is why you and brian's guests do not make any sense. TELL ME HOW THIS WORKS IN WRITTEN FORM.
voter from brooklyn- if you ask brian he'd tell you that he considers himself a journalist first and foremost.

Jan. 14 2010 10:46 AM
JIm from Staten Island

FF's generally are "born" into it by family tradition, and begin studying for the test in high school (see the NYPL section for all the books for Civil Service Exams).

More successful candidates prepare for a longer time for the civil service test, as opposed to those who decide to study only after submitting the application to take the test. It is all about preparation.

The only remedy to this would be a blatant 1970's style affirmative-action / skin-color-quota scheme. SCOTUS would (thankfully) kick that idea in the teeth.

Study more, folks, it is not that hard a test - the whining is pathetic.

Jan. 14 2010 10:34 AM
Tony from Windsor Terrace


That was a horrible interview. No doubt racist discrimination lives on - but you failed to press these lawyers to cite a SINGLE specific example.

To practice law is to apply concrete examples to abstract principles.

You allowed them to wallow in abstraction without explaining the case.

Sheila Foster either did not understand the case and ruling or she is a hack.

This is what gives liberals like us a bad name, very disappointing.

Jan. 14 2010 10:34 AM
Robbie from Brooklyn

A Black man phoned in and said he scored in the high 90 percentile on the NYFD test and excellent on the physical but was never called. This is the point. I've heard this for years. My sense is the NYFD pass/fail stats per applicants is rigged to show a pre-determined outcome. I repeat: Do you think you have to be a freakin rocket scientist to pass the test to become a firefighter? If you want to buttress your deep seated belief that Black people are inferior then keep thinking it's the test they somehow just cannot pass as well as whites. It's crap.

Jan. 14 2010 10:31 AM
Voter from Brooklyn

I see shades of racism in some of the criticism on the judge’s ruling, but I can’t help but agree. Give an example of how the test is unfair and racist other than “because the judge said it was” or “because blacks represent 3% of the force in a city with 25% representation”.
If the implication is that the written test is unfair primarily or solely because it is a written test, say so; however, if the implication or inference is that the questions asked are discriminatory, give an example of a discriminatory question. Otherwise, stop wasting our time.
I’m black by the way.

#29 (Bernard Joseph) Brian is an opinion show host, not a journalist.

Jan. 14 2010 10:31 AM
the truth!! from BKNY

Nice racist comments BERNARD JOSEPH from Bensonhurst Brooklyn....nice work pretending not to know how this discrimination thing works and even more ignorant about how it works in written form, yeah right....although I was waiting for an example of the questions before answering as well, I am content to agree with the decison of the COURT OF LAW who DID review the test.

Jan. 14 2010 10:31 AM
Walter Ellis from Brooklyn Heights

I obviously agree that recruitment into the NYFD should reflect the city's demographics. but, on a point of information, New York is no longer the world's most diverse city. London took the title about 10 years ago and has been building on it since. The bulk of current immigration into New York is hispanic, gradually creating a bi-culture (if that's the word). Immigration into London is global, with – as it happens – the hispanic element probably the least important. Thus, the two cities are not coming together, but, oddly, growing apart.

Jan. 14 2010 10:30 AM
bernard joseph from brooklyn

thank you jane! once brian is convinced of something, he forgets that he is a journalist.

Jan. 14 2010 10:25 AM

@11 why would lowering the pay make a positive difference? Are you serious? I want these guys to be paid well. What they do is make a huge sacrifice.

Jan. 14 2010 10:24 AM
Mike from Inwood

[9] eringolightly from Brooklyn states: "And what about FDNY's discriminatory hiring policy and practice with regard to WOMEN?"

As long as that woman can drag a 300 lb person out of a burning building with as much ease as the man they would've hired. Let them hire women.

Jan. 14 2010 10:24 AM
Mike from Manhattan

It's not the test. The NYFD is a simply a white brotherhood.

Jan. 14 2010 10:24 AM
Carey from Woodhaven

Do you have to know where the best cannoli is in Bensonhurst to become the Fire Commissioner?

Jan. 14 2010 10:23 AM

@9 Please, men are stronger than women. A strong man is going to be stronger than a strong woman!

Jan. 14 2010 10:23 AM

this segment is not interesting for us non-firemen because they aren't giving examples of these questions!!

GIVE EXAMPLES OF THE TEST! This is like listening to a private conversation!! It's PUBLIC RADIO!

Jan. 14 2010 10:22 AM
Taher from Croton on Hudson

I knew a man-white- who was a hemophilic, took the NYC fire dep. test and passed. However, he did not tell them that he was a hemophilic and was hired. Is a person with that condition-qualified to become a fireman?

Jan. 14 2010 10:21 AM
bernard joseph from brooklyn

what does the court know about what qualifies a firefighter? and why does the fdny have to reflect the demographics in this city? why?

Jan. 14 2010 10:21 AM
John from Manhattan

The test is not relevant to firefighting; understood. But HOW is it racially discriminatory?

Jan. 14 2010 10:21 AM
Mike Silva from hillside

What's in this test that no african american can pass???

Jan. 14 2010 10:21 AM
Dorian from Manhattan

Doesn't the fact that African Americans score more poorly on a written exam say as much about our education system as about the test?

All else being equal, what more race-blind way is there to hire than via score on a written exam?

Jan. 14 2010 10:21 AM
Daniel L-S from New Jersey

I believe the discrimination dates back to the 1800's era when the Fire Dept was essentially privatized and run by Irish imigrants.

Jan. 14 2010 10:21 AM
Alan Hyde from Manhattan

In December 2001 I was at a labor law conference in Amsterdam. Several participants asked me how, after all these years, the NYC Fire Department could still be all white, male, and Catholic. They had seen this on television in September 2001. We have to think about how the world sees us.

Jan. 14 2010 10:21 AM
Tqny from Windsor Terrace

Yes - I second third and forth the above queries.

Please name ONE example of a question that is discriminatory.

Not denying that it is POSSIBLE, but none of these cases or the reporting thereof has sussed this out.

Jan. 14 2010 10:20 AM

Do we know how many African Americans have taken the NYC test as a pct of totally test takers? What's the pass rate for Blacks versus Whites?

Jan. 14 2010 10:19 AM
Tony from Santa Clara, CA

If so many people want to be firefighters, why don't they lower the pay? The city would save money and these problems would go away...

Or wait, there is an union, is there?

Jan. 14 2010 10:19 AM
Mike from Inwood

I believe the firefighters test that 'discriminated' against Black people in New Haven, CT, was designed be so-called 'experts' to be non-discriminatory.

Jan. 14 2010 10:19 AM
eringolightly from Brooklyn

And what about FDNY's discriminatory hiring policy and practice with regard to WOMEN?

All New Yorkers should be represented in the department. As it stands, no matter their race, males get all the jobs. Girls want to be firefighters too! Bring on the sex discrimination lawsuits!

Jan. 14 2010 10:18 AM
jenny from mont tremblant

What possible question would an african-american not know but a caucasion would? can you pls provide examples???!

Jan. 14 2010 10:18 AM
Robbie from Brooklyn

It isn't the TEST in and of itself. Do you think you have to be a freakin rocket scientist to become a fireman? A caller asks Qualifications? People of color have shown they are brilliantly qualified and are successful in every sector of this society despite the discrimination. People are in denial. The gatekeepers of the NYFD have a pervasive policy to keep that organization almost exclusively reserved for whites. And they use whatever means necessary. What other explanation can there possibly be for a 90% white NYC Fire Department in a city where almost the majority are people of color.

Jan. 14 2010 10:18 AM
bernard joseph from brooklyn

brian- please ask them HOW this excludes blacks??? if white applicants pass the test then the test isn't impossible to pass, isn't that right? so how is it exclusionary?

Jan. 14 2010 10:17 AM
Mike from Inwood

Look at the list of 343 firefighters who died at the WTC. Look at how many families lost more than one person. Lots. The problem is not racism, it's nepotism. It's tough to get a cushy government job and some people here have a lock on them. Everyone else is excluded, regardless of race.

Jan. 14 2010 10:16 AM
Yvonne Durant

Can someone cite an example of how this test is discriminatory?

Jan. 14 2010 10:13 AM
John from Manhattan

Please ask you guests for an example of one of these test questions that would discriminate against blacks.

Jan. 14 2010 10:12 AM
bernard joseph from brooklyn

HOW is a written exam exclusionary towards black test takers. tell me HOW, please.

Jan. 14 2010 10:10 AM
bernard joseph from brooklyn

hopefully ms.foster can explain how a written test could be biased. this seems unbelievable given the information i've the NBA biased against white players because there are so few in the NBA?
of course not, this is ridiculous

Jan. 14 2010 10:06 AM

Leave a Comment

Email addresses are required but never displayed.

Get the WNYC Morning Brief in your inbox.
We'll send you our top 5 stories every day, plus breaking news and weather.