Comrie helps minorities join city’s Bravest

FDNY members set up a recruiting station at Councilman Leroy Comrie's office and helped dozens of people to apply for the firefighter's exam. Photo courtesy of Comrie's office
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The FDNY has seen an increase in the number of minorities who have applied to be part of New York’s Bravest and an elected official in southeast Queens as well as the fire commissioner are crediting the rise to a more active recruiting presence in inner-city communities.

City Councilman Leroy Comrie (D-St. Albans), who has been pushing the Fire Department to bring in more minorities, said he was impressed with the new statistics released about the applicants for January’s entrance exam into the FDNY academy. Of the 61,439 applicants who applied for the test, 30,429 — or roughly 49.5 percent — were either black, Latino, Asian or native American. More than 4,000 applicants were women, according to the FDNY.

Comrie and Fire Department Commissioner Salvatore Cassano credited a new marketing campaign using radio, television and newspaper ads and visits to communities during events as the reason behind the large number of minority applicants. Comrie said FDNY representatives who visited his office during the summer twice a week had helped 75 of his constituents apply for the test.

“Oftentimes, the recruiters were able to engage our youth about the benefits of public service in the FDNY just by being visible at a recruitment table stationed on the sidewalk in front of my Farmers Boulevard office,” he said in a statement. “In fact, many young men are still coming to my office well after the recruiters to sign up for the test.”

Currently 87 percent of the FDNY’s members are white, 3.8 percent are black, 7.8 percent are Latino and 0.9 percent are Asian, according to Comrie’s office. The city’s minority population is 27 percent black, 27 percent Latino and 10 percent Asian, the councilman’s office said,

Cassano said the number of black and Latino 2011 applicants were double the number of black and Latino applicants in 2006, and they would continue their initiative for future applications.

“Our sustained, years-long recruitment effort has attracted the largest and most diverse group of candidates ever,” he said in a statement.

In the meantime, the state government may be taking extra steps to keep the Bravest diverse.

In June, the Council unanimously passed a bill that was introduced by Comrie that asked the state Legislature to consider a measure that would give more credit to FDNY applicants who are New York City residents with high school diplomas or equivalent degrees.

The state Assembly and state Senate have not yet responded to the Council’s request, but Comrie said he would continue to push for the bill to become a reality.

“Without a doubt, we now know that true diversity can be achieved in the FDNY with the right marketing and community outreach along with a fair exam,” he said.

Reach reporter Ivan Pereira by e-mail at or by phone at 718-260-4546.

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