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On September 19, 2022, the Committee on Fire and Emergency Management, chaired by Council Member Joann Ariola, held an oversight hearing entitled “Evaluating Diversity and Inclusion in the FDNY.” The hearing was a follow-up on what the Department has accomplished regarding their plans to increase diversity, as well exploring the historical culture of harassment and discrimination of women and minorities in the Department. Additionally, a discussion on a package of several bills related to improving the culture for women and minorities in fire houses, and diversity in the Department.

In response to a 2018 Council inquiry, on file with Committee staff, the FDNY provided the following projections for diversity in the coming years: “If [FDNY] continue[s] to diversify at the same rate as today, and rates of retirement and hiring remain the same, [the Department] would see the population of the FDNY reaching the same diversity as New York City over the next 3-4 testing cycles. In that same period, we would expect female candidates to be over 10% of the FDNY force, 3 points above the national average of 7%”. The Council’s data team evaluated whether current hiring trends are in line with such goal, and what hiring trends would be necessary in order to meet the diversity goal.

They found that:

  • While current hiring trends will improve firefighter racial and ethnic composition, it’s not projected to reach NYC’s demographics within the next 15 years.
  • At the recruitment stage of hiring, more Asian applicants are needed. At the graduation stage, more graduates from all underrepresented groups are needed.



Asian: 4.4%, Female: 3.6%

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Comparing Gender and Race/Ethnicity

The gender and racial/ethnic compositions of NYC and that of the FDNY’s firefighters are very different.

When looking at gender, 52% of the population is female and 48% male in NYC. On the other hand, less than 2% of firefighters are female at the FDNY. When looking at race/ethnicity, all groups make between 15% to 29% of the NYC population. While at the FDNY, about half of all firefighters are white (54%) and the rest of the groups make up smaller proportions (23% other/unknown, 13% hispanic, 7% black, and less than 2% asian).

Uniformed Firefighters 2023

An infographic shown during the hearing made by the Council’s Black, Latino, and Asian Caucus has more recent firefighter race/ethnicity numbers from the FY 2023 Preliminary Budget Briefing. 76% of uniformed firefighters are white, followed by 13% Hispanic, 8% Black, 2% Asian, and 0.8% of an other race/ethnicity.

Press infographic made by the Council's Black, Latino, and Asian Caucus has more recent firefighter race/ethnicity numbers from the FY 2023 Preliminary Budget Briefing. 76% of uniformed firefighters are white, followed by 13% Hispanic, 8% Black, 2 Asian%, and 0.8% of an other race/ethnicity.

Current Applicant & Graduate Demographics

Using the current hiring demographic compositions (2017-2021) of applicants and of graduates from the FDNY probationary firefighter school is a way to estimate FDNY’s diversity for the next 15 years. Projecting firefighters’ racial/ethnic and gender makeup into the future reveals that the FDNY may not meet their stated diversity targets.

Applicant Rates

Hiring at the current race/ethnicity applicant rates would achieve parity for Blacks and Hispanics, but not for Asians within 15 years.

Hiring at the current gender applicant rates would achieve parity for women in the desired timeframe.

*Dashed lines represent NYC demographic distribution, solid lines represent projected trend.

Graduate Rates

Hiring at the current race/ethnicity graduate rates would not achieve parity across all race/ethnicities.

Hiring at the current graduate gender diversity rate would would not bring the fraction of women in line with the target of 10%.

*Dashed lines represent NYC demographic distribution, solid lines represent projected trend.

Becoming a Firefighter

Background on the FDNY’s Hiring Process

Currently, to become a firefighter with the FDNY, an applicant must first pass both a written and physical test administered by DCAS. The physical portion of this test is known as the Candidate Physical Ability Test (“CPAT”). DCAS establishes an “eligible list” of candidates based on the result of this written test, and candidates from the eligible list are invited to complete the physical portion of the examination. If the candidate achieves a sufficient result on the physical portion of the examination, the candidate will undergo a background check, and drug and other related screenings, such as medical and psychological. Those who pass these screenings are invited to the FDNY’s academy.

At the academy, the candidate undergoes a series of physical tests known as the Functional Skills Training (“FST”). The FST is a qualifying physical exam administered to probationary firefighters in the Fire Academy that requires graduates meet standards based on previous performances by past academy classes, not necessarily on what is required in the field. In the FST, candidates perform a series of tests in full firefighter gear, including activities such as climbing stairs with tools and equipment weighing an excess of 100 pounds, advancing hose lines, forcible entry, victim rescue and raising ladders. The FDNY considers the FST to be a more demanding version of the CPAT.

Demographics at Each Stage of the Hiring Process

In an effort to better gauge diversity within the Department’s hiring process, the Council enacted Local Law 49 of 2015 , which helps the City and the public gain a better understanding of the racial and gender demographics of the FDNY’s applicant pool. This local law requires the FDNY to report on the gender and racial demographics of the firefighter applicant pool at every step of the application process, through the admissions process, and up to the point that the applicants become firefighters or are eliminated any time in between.

The table to the right aims to see at what stages of the recruitment process do underrepresented groups fail to move on to the next stage. After the initial application, the percentage is out of the total number of applicants that moved on to the next round from the preceding step. For example, there were 3,341 applicants in the 2017 exam that were Asian. Of those, 61% preceded to the next step of taking the exam. Of those 61%, 95% passed the computer exam. Of those 95%, 19% were invited to take the physical exam, and so on so forth.

One stage where diversity efforts can be targeted is where applicants take the physical exam after being invited to take it. Only 42% of female applicants take the exam after being invited to take it. All other population groups are much closer to the total rate of applicants who take the exam after being invited of 71%.

Reaching Desired Targets

For racial/ethnic & gender diversity targets to be met within the next 3-4 hiring cycles, the hiring demographics shown to the right would be needed. Candidates would need to be about 34% Hispanic, 25% Black, 23% White, and 18% Asian, and 13% female. This was calculated using the the desired timeframe (~15 years), targets (mentioned above), and current NYC demographics.


  • Hispanic : 33.8%
  • Black : 25.4%
  • White: 23.3%
  • Asian : 18.3%
  • Other/Unknown : -0.86%


  • Male : 87.5%
  • Female : 12.5%
  • Other/Unknown : -0.08%

Introduced Legislation

The Committee on Fire & Emergency Management will hear a package of bills related to evaluating diversity and inclusion in the FDNY.
  • Amending the administrative code of the city of New York, in relation to demographic diversity within the fire department. Int. 516
  • Requiring permanent firehouse facility upgrades to ensure a safe working environment for a mixed gender workforce. Int. 519
  • Reporting demographic information of members of the fire department at firehouses. Int. 552
  • Requiring the fire department to implement training on diversity, inclusion, and harassment. Int. 553
  • Requiring the fire department to annually report on equal employment opportunity complaints. Int. 560

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Created by the NYC City Council Data Team.