The city needs you: FDNY seeks Black recruits

NAYABA ARINDE Amsterdam News Editor | 3/21/2013, 11:08 a.m.
In certain realms, Vulcans hold a curious fascination for those of the Comic-Con faith. But...
Black FDNY firefighters

"The judge ruled in our favor; we had sued on discrimination, and we won that. We sued on intentional discrimination, and we won that."

Washington said another point of contention for the Vulcans was that "there was never any doubt that we would win this case, and yet the city wasted millions fighting it. We won on summary judgment, which means that the judge felt that the evidence was so compelling that there was no need to go to trial. That doesn't usually happen."

The FDNY has launched a $1 million ad campaign focusing on the benefits associated with becoming a firefighter, including a starting salary of about $40,000 that reaches nearly $100,000 after five years; excellent health and medical benefits; a flexible work schedule; lifelong medical coverage; up to four weeks of vacation annually; generous pension benefits; and career growth opportunities.

According to the FDNY website, "The computer-based exam focuses on a number of topics that gauge a candidate's ability to learn and perform the duties of a firefighter, including reading comprehension, problem solving, spatial recognition and applying rules to general concepts. It does not require any pre-existing knowledge about firefighting or the Fire Department.

"Based on your performance on the exam, your name will be put on a civil service list in list number order. You will then be called to take the physical portion of the exam. The physical ability exam is a series of challenges designed to test ability in four categories of fitness that are crucial in firefighting. Once your number is called, you will also take a medical and psychological test, a drug screening as well as receive a background investigation. Your eligibility requirements will also be checked at this time."

Cassano said in a recent network news interview that "minorities" had not traditionally applied for the job because of a fear of the inherent danger. A report by Columbia University suggested the FDNY focus on the benefits of the job to encourage greater participation in the application process.

Washington took umbrage at this explanation. "There is danger in many fields of work. It is not as dangerous as most people think, though, and it is a very, very rewarding job. The starting salary is about $45,000 a year and it goes up to $100,000 after five years on the job. There is tremendous job security, full medical and dental coverage, an extremely flexible work schedule, a full pension after 22 years and the chance to do good in your community."

Waxing lyrical about the beauty of the job, Washington said he wants as many Black men and women to apply to get on the job as possible.

"This isn't a good job," said the Staten Island-born, Brooklyn-living, Queens-working firefighter, "it is a great job. The Black community needs to take advantage of this great opportunity. You can apply online and it is only $25."

Washington continued, "We want as many Blacks to apply as possible. There is a residency requirement which has existed for 20 years, but it has always been easily gotten around-we are glad that that loophole has been closed. City residents have a considerable advantage getting on the job because we closed the loophole. You get five points if you can prove that you live in the city, and that gives you a tremendous advantage."

The Vulcan Society can be reached at (718) 778-7978 or www.vulcansocietyfdny.org.

For more information about the exam, call 311 or (718) 999-FDNY, or go to

www.nyc.gov/fdny or www.facebook.com/joinFDNY. The FDNY also has a Twitter account dedicated to the campaign, @joinFDNY.