Bill to Give Firefighter Test Credit to Grads of City High Schools

Chief Leader - November 10, 2009

by ARI PAUL

City Councilman Leroy Comrie has introduced a bill that would grant Firefighter candidates five additional points if they graduated from a New York City high school, a provision long sought by the Vulcan Society of black firefighters.

Half of the city's Firefighters and Fire Marshals live outside the five boroughs, according to the Uniformed Firefighters Association, and while city residents already gain five points on the exam, Councilman Comrie said there are plenty of ways for non-residents to get around the requirements.

'Can Fake Residency'

"A lot of people fake residency now, so we wanted to come up with another option, because they're not doing an adequate residency check," Councilman Comrie said. "People show up in New York six months before the test, get a phone bill, and say they're a New York City resident."

Paul Washington, the former president of the Vulcan Society, added, "This is foolproof. You can't fake where you graduated from."

He added that the Vulcan Society believed that giving an advantage to city residents on the Firefighter exam would increase diversity in the Fire Department. Currently, just over 7 percent of the firefighting force is black or Latino, while departments in Boston, Chicago and Los Angeles range from 25 percent to 50 percent minority. The Vulcans, along with the U.S. Department of Justice, convinced a Federal judge earlier this year that two written exams for Firefighter discriminated against minorities.

"It's just a bad policy for the city to be giving these paychecks to people who spend it out in Long Island," Captain Washington said. "I live in New York City and I spend nearly every penny right here in Brooklyn."