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FDNY must boost its diversity: Comrie

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City Councilman Leroy Comrie (D-St. Albans) is urging his fellow Council colleagues to push the state to reform the FDNY’s hiring practice to entice minorities to join New York’s Bravest.

The councilman introduced a resolution last week, during the stated meeting that pushes the state Legislature to pass legislation, to combat the low number of minorities in the Fire Department. The FDNY currently awards extra points to applicants if they are New York City residents, but Comrie wants to take that one step further.

As part of his legislation, applicants would receive five-point credit for applicants with a New York City high school diploma or GED credential after attending a city high school for three years. The city cannot pass this legislation without getting approval from Albany first, according to Comrie.

“It is my hope that Albany will move with all deliberate speed to allow our city to address one of the most embarrassing statistics regarding its workforce,” he said in a statement.

The FDNY is the least racially diverse department in the city, since only 10 percent of its force is minority, according to the councilman. Over the last two decades, the number of black firefighters has decreased 6 percent, Comrie said.

Los Angeles, by comparison, has a 44 percent minority representation in its Fire Department, according to the councilman. Comrie said the new bonus points awarded to the city applicants would boost the department’s efficiency when responding to emergencies.

“Living in New York City and attending high school within the five boroughs help individuals familiarize themselves with, among other things, the city’s neighborhoods, topography, infrastructure and layout,” he said.

Comrie’s resolution has received the backing of the minority activist group Vulcan Society, which has been pushing for more Latino firefighters for years.

“New York City residents deserve to have a leg up to attaining this great career,” Vulcan Society past President Paul Washington said in a statement. “We hope that the state Legislature will promptly pass a bill allowing New York City to enact this local law.”

Reach reporter Ivan Pereira by e-mail at ipereira@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4546.

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