Of roughly 11,000 firefighters in the city, only about 3 percent are black and 4.5 percent are Hispanic.
New York City won't hire any rookie firefighters until a new entry exam is created to replace one that a judge has declared discriminatory.
The city's law department had until Friday to choose one of five alternatives to hire entry-level firefighters while awaiting the new exam.
But the department said in a letter to the court it is choosing none of the alternatives. It says they all involved some sort of race-based quota. Corporation Counsel head Michael Cardozo said that would be bad public policy.
U.S. District Judge Nicholas Garaufis found in August that the test used by the mostly white department was unfair to black and Hispanic applicants.
It's not clear how long it will take to create and approve a new test.