Although the New York Police Department boasts an extremely diverse group of men and women from all ethnic backgrounds, the FDNY continues to rank as one of the least diverse city agencies on record. According to a recent article, the strides to diversify this agency stemmed from a class action lawsuit that was filed back in 2002. United States and Vulcan Society v. City of New York found that the agency used racially discriminatory hiring practices which violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
After the case was decided in 2012, the court mandated the creation of a brand new exam, they imposed broad-ranging injunctive relief to those that had been affected, and they appointed a court monitor to oversee recruitment, hiring, and equal employment opportunity requirements that have become standard practices in most industries. Today, Engine 234 in Crown Heights boasts the only majority black FDNY company in New York City.
“The diversity on the job is increasing — and I wouldn’t expect it to go down,” said the Fire Department Captain, Paul Washington.
While the court is accredited with making the landmark decision, a group of Black firefighters known as the Vulcan Society were the first to point out the discriminatory practices and eventually filed a lawsuit on behalf of all potential firefighters of color. Although Engine 234 in Crown Heights is employing the highest number of diverse firefighters, only about 6% of the 10,500-member, city-wide force are African American.