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City Blocked From Hiring New Firefighters Based On 'Invalid' Entrance Exam

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

A federal judge is blocking the city from hiring new firefighters, based on a 2007 hiring test, which he says was unfair to black and Hispanic applicants. The New York City Fire Department says it needs to hire 300 new members before the end of August. But Judge Nicholas Garaufis says the city can only do this if it can prove its hiring needs are so urgent that they justify using a test that Garuafis describes as "invalid."

"If it's such an urgent matter, we'll sit down, and we'll start again, and try to brainstorm a way to hire," says Anjana Samant, a lawyer who represents the Vulcan Society, a fraternity of black firefighters.

But right now, as the judge points out, it's not quite clear where this urgency for hiring is coming from. Samant says the city is being disingenuous, because Mayor Michael Bloomberg, in the recent budget cycle, was prepared to make deep staff cuts by closing 20 fire companies.

"It is actually kind of curious that they're like, 'No, no, we have to do this, now,'" says Samant. "Whereas six months ago, high-level administration folks were saying, 'Actually, we can cut this force short.'"

In a written statement, the city says under-staffing is costing the department $2 million a month in overtime wages. The judge has ordered the two sides to meet in the coming days to hammer out a resolution to the city's firefighter-hiring needs. Garaufis previously ruled that the FDNY hiring exams for the 1999-2002 exams were discriminatory.

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Comments [2]

catherine greene from Staten Island, N.Y.

We are told in society everyday how important getting a college education and degree is, speaking english well and being able to articulate to others, and being able to past tests including best performance requirements that qualify you for any job.
So why do we change the system by down grading those requirements instead of supporting individuals who make the effort and take the time to work hard for the goals in life they want. To keep our standards high for all Americans creates a better work force and sucessful country!

Aug. 08 2010 11:54 AM
Dwayne Oklepek from Amsterdam/110th St.

The number of fire personnel is adequate. Will attrition invalidate that; they must prove it. I most often encounter firemen lollygagging around Westside Market buying groceries or standing around at false alarms or buying coffee. I have never seen the police or fire personnel located on 100th St. between Amsterdam and Columbus doing what they are paid to do. Slackards all.

Aug. 05 2010 10:33 AM

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