More than 61,000 people applied to take the FDNY firefighter exam this year in what amounted to the largest and most diverse group of candidates, officials said.
The two-month sign-up period for the exam ended Monday after a campaign focused heavily on recruiting minorities and women. The new recruitment initiative came after a lawsuit accused the FDNY of using exams that discriminated against minorities. A judge ordered the agency to create a new exam.
The new FDNY Open Competitive Firefighter Exam will be administered in January 2012. The last exam was administered in 2007, before the FDNY experienced a hiring freeze.
There were 2.5 times more black and Hispanic applicants for the 2012 exam compared to those for 2007, and more than three times as many female applicants (4,261 for the 2012 exam versus 1,401 for the 2007 exam), the FDNY said.
The racial breakdown of applicants for this year's crop of applicants was: 50.5 percent white (31,014 applicants); 23 percent black (14,122 applicants); 23 percent Hispanic (14,110 applicants); 3 percent Asian (1,900 applicants); and 0.5 percent Native American (293 applicants).
"Our sustained, years-long recruitment effort has attracted the largest and most diverse group of candidates ever," Fire Commissioner Salvatore Cassano said Tuesday. "We successfully built on our 2006/2007 campaign to reach groups traditionally underrepresented in the firefighter ranks."
The 11,000-member department has been criticizef for its lack of diversity. Currently, only about 3 percent of firefighters are black.