City Council Makes Amends, Extends Firefighter Age From 29 to 35

NY Daily News - May 27, 2011

by Reuven Blau DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITER

The City Council passed a bill Thursday extending the age limit for hopeful firefighter candidates who have been stymied by an ongoing legal battle over the entry exams.

The extension - from age 29 to 35 - would allow job-seekers who took the 2007 test to remain eligible for the next test. The last firefighter exam was administered in 2007, but the results were invalidated by a federal judge who ruled that it discriminated against African-American and Hispanic candidates.

"This rectified a wrong that the court inadvertently created," said Council Speaker Christine Quinn.

The FDNY plans to begin accepting applications for a new exam on July 1, the city said.

The Council also passed a resolution supporting greater oversight of bonus points granted to firefighter candidates living in the city.

Currently, city residents get an added five points, but many are suspected of lying about where they actually live.

The Council's proposed change would require candidates to submit proof that they graduated from a city high school in hopes of bolstering minority applicants' chances of getting on the job.

The measure is supported by the Vulcan Society, a black firefighters group.

The city needs permission from state lawmakers to enact such a rule change.

"We live in one of the largest and most diverse cities in the world, yet the racial makeup of our Fire Department hovers around 10% people of color," said Queens Councilman Leroy Comrie.

He noted that the minority makeup of the Los Angeles firefighter force is more than 44%.