FDNY Makes Big Push for Black Applicants

By Katherine Creag
|  Sunday, Jul 17, 2011  |  Updated 7:24 PM EDT
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FDNY Makes Push for Black Applicants

A parishioner at Greater Allen AME Church takes interest in the FDNY exam after Commissioner Cassano's address.

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It wasn't just church leaders who took to the pulpit at a Jamaica, Queens, church Sunday. A city leader did, too, not with a song but with a message.

"If you know of a young man or woman looking for a great job, the FDNY is your answer," Fire Commissioner Salvatore Cassano told the congregation at the Greater Allen African Methodist Episcopal Cathedral.

Cassano was there to encourage members of the 23,000-member church and the surrounding community to sign up for the Open Competitive Firefighter Exam.

One parishioner, Anthony Peterson, picked up information for his 20-year-old brother, who will be graduating from college soon.

"Hearing the commissioner speak, it's a sign for me to tell him he needs to follow his heart and your passion," said Peterson.

The FDNY has had a hiring freeze since 2007. A lawsuit accused the agency of using exams that discriminated against minorities. A judge ruled against the FDNY last year and ordered a new exam.

The new tests begin in January 2012, and the FDNY has launched a massive recruitment initiative for the exam.

FDNY recruiters will go to other churches, as well as DMV offices, subway stations, veterans halls -- wherever they can to get as many people signed up to take the exam, said officials.

"The door has been opened," Rev. Floyd Flake of Greater Allen A.M.E. Cathedral said of Cassano's appearance at the church. "They feel this is a place where they can come to work. They're not as fearful of taking the exam as they were in the past."

Starting salary is $40,000, according to Cassano. After five years, it rises to $100,000.

The filing period for the exam runs from July 25 to Sept. 15. To learn more about the exam, or to apply, click here.

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