City Hall, NY – Today, the Council passed a legislative package that will improve the diversity, equity and inclusion practices at the Fire Department of the City of New York (FDNY). The bills in this package seek to address the historic lack of racial and gender diversity in the FDNY. The package addresses the recruitment and retention of diverse firefighters, confronts exclusionary practices that undermine diversity, and increases transparency about FDNY’s efforts. The legislation would require FDNY to develop a concrete plan to diversify, survey firehouses and ensure they are equipped to serve a mixed gender workforce, increase transparency on the demographics of members in a firehouse through public reporting; require ongoing training on harassment, diversity and inclusion for all FDNY staff and members; and submit a public report on complaints filed with the Department’s Equal Employment Opportunities Office.
“The overall lack of diversity within the FDNY is a longstanding problem we must address,” said Speaker Adrienne Adams. “As a Council, we are committed to advancing solutions that help correct this historic injustice. By passing this package of bills today, we hope to move the FDNY forward to achieving a workforce fully reflective of rich diversity of our city. I thank the Council’s Black, Latino, and Asian Caucus for its leadership on this legislation, and Fire and Emergency Management Chair Joann Ariola for shepherding it through the committee. I am also grateful to advocates, organizations, and firefighters who have fought for decades to win equitable representation and treatment in the FDNY.”
Introduction 516-A, sponsored by Speaker Adrienne Adams, would require the FDNY, in consultation with the Department of Citywide Administrative Services, to develop and implement a plan for the recruitment and retention of firefighters from underrepresented groups within the department — female firefighters and firefighters of diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds. FDNY would also be required to report annually on its efforts to recruit and retain underrepresented firefighters.
Introduction 519-A, sponsored by Council Member Joann Ariola, would require the FDNY to survey each firehouse to determine the permanent facility upgrades necessary to create a workplace environment that facilitates use by a mixed gender workforce, and employ interim measures, including erecting physical barriers, in locations awaiting such upgrades. Upon completing the survey, the Department would be required to report its findings to the Council and Mayor, specifically detailing the permanent facility upgrades necessary at each firehouse, as well as providing information related to any current or forthcoming construction plans to make relevant upgrades, and any interim measures taken at firehouses to accommodate a mixed gender workforce until permanent upgrades are made.
Introduction 552-A, sponsored by Council Member Kevin Riley, would require the FDNY to produce an annual report on the number of firefighters assigned to each fire company and special operations unit, within the Department, disaggregated by the gender and race or ethnicity of such firefighters. Additionally, FDNY will be required to provide demographic information of the population residing in the immediate service area of each fire company in the City.
Introduction 553-A, sponsored by Council Member Kevin Riley, would require the FDNY in consultation with the Department of Citywide Administrative Services, to develop and implement a plan for providing ongoing training and education to all employees regarding diversity and inclusion, including annual training on the Department’s anti-harassment and anti-discrimination policies. Additional interactive training would be required at firehouses where incidents of harassment and discrimination take place on multiple occasions. The Fire Department would also be required to post a report each year on its website regarding efforts taken to implement such training.
“As Co-Chair of the Black, Latino and Asian Caucus, it is a priority for the Caucus that all legislation passed through the Council upholds a true means of diversity and inclusion that seeks to benefit and protect all New Yorkers,” said Council Member Kevin C. Riley. “I am honored to lead with my colleagues to push this legislative package that will transform the lack of diversity and inclusion within the FDNY. My bills, Int. 552-A and 553-A, further support this goal through annual demographics reporting and ongoing training for all fire department employees – opening clear measures for transparency and accountability. In today’s historically diverse Council, we make our mark to address generations of systemic disparities within our infrastructure, as well as to create more welcoming and safe workplaces for all New Yorkers. Thank you Speaker Adams for her leadership on this package, members of the Black, Latino and Asian Caucus, Vulcan Society, Arc of Justice and my colleagues in government for your support on this historic day.”
Introduction 560-A, sponsored by Council Member Nantasha Williams, would require the FDNY to produce an annual report on complaints filed with the Department’s Equal Employment Opportunity Office regarding potential violations of the City’s Equal Employment Opportunity Policy. The report will include information on the number of complaints that were received and closed during the prior year; information on types of misconduct alleged in such complaints; and case outcomes, including any corrective action taken by the Department.
“After receiving a number of complaints regarding diversity and discrimination in the FDNY, I was proud to sponsor this bill. Int 560 would hold the Fire Department accountable with the goal to remedy the complaints filed against them. This bill would require the Fire Department to submit an annual report to the Mayor and the Speaker of the Council, and to publish this report on the Department’s website for public access. The report would include information on the number of complaints that resulted in corrective action taken by the Fire Department, further disaggregated by the form of corrective action, including but not limited to formal reprimand, fine, loss of pay or benefits, transfer, suspension, demotion and termination,” said Council Member Nantasha Williams. “I would like to thank Fire and Emergency Management Chair, Joann Ariola, my colleagues that have also sponsored bills included in this package, and Speaker Adrienne Adams for her leadership.”
“As Co-Chair of the Black, Latino, and Asian Caucus, I’m proud to support this legislative package which will help diversify the FDNY,” said Council Member Oswald Feliz, Co-Chair of the Council’s Black, Latino, and Asian Caucus (BLAC). “New York City is diverse in every way, and we must ensure government agencies resemble our very diverse communities. For far too long, barriers have kept racial minorities and women out of the pipeline for recruitment and hiring in our fire department. The historic lack of diversity is unacceptable, so we’re taking action today. This legislative package will create stronger communities and stronger fire departments, and it will help ensure that everyone in our community can see themselves as -and also become- a firefighter.”
“The men and women that serve our communities in the FDNY are among the bravest and most selfless people in our City. Yet, we’re failing to provide Black and brown New Yorkers with equitable pathways to become firefighters; and falling short of guaranteeing women and LGBTQ+ firefighters, as well as firefighters of color, the right to work without fear of harassment,” said Council Member Crystal Hudson, Co-Chair of the Council’s Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex, Asexual Caucus (LGBTQIA+) Caucus. “In too many ways, the current system is failing to foster a workplace that is safe, diverse, and inclusive to all. These bills will only strengthen the FDNY, and usher in a more diverse and equitable future for the Department, allowing New York’s Bravest to continue serving our communities to the very best of their abilities.”
Advocates praised the passage of the legislation.
“This Council under the leadership and stewardship of Speaker Adams and with the visionary diligence of Councilmember Nantasha Williams and her colleagues has taken a quantum leap in diversity for the singularly best fire department in the world,” said Elder Kirsten John Foy, President & CEO of The Arc of Justice. “These bills will help ensure that every New Yorker has an opportunity to answer the calling of our bravest and excel in their service. Women and people of color comprise the overwhelming majority of this exceptional city and our incomparable fire department will be all the better for pushing to reflect the great and grand diversity that makes New York City the greatest city in the world.”
“The Vulcan Society is grateful to all of the Council Members and their amazing staff who helped these bills pass,” said Regina Wilson, Former President of the Vulcan Society. “We want to thank the Council’s Legislative Division for their dedication and commitment to working on this legislative package. The fire department still has a long way to go with equity, diversity and inclusion, and these bills will help move us in the right direction while benefiting the community and FDNY employees. Today is the beginning of changes to come.”
“It is important that the makeup of our fire department reflect the community it serves,” said David R. Jones, President and CEO of the Community Service Society of New York. “However, despite lawsuits and consent decrees over the years, rooting out entrenched racism at the FDNY and increasing minority recruitment among its ranks has been an elusive goal. That’s due in large part to the department and union’s vehement resistance to change. With the package of bills passed today by the City Council — focused on recruitment and retention, diversity training, improved workplace environment, monitoring and public reporting — the city has taken a defining step forward toward transforming the FDNY to better reflect the racial, ethnic and gender makeup of the city’s population. We applaud the City Council, and in particular the Council’s Black Latino and Asian Caucus, for supporting passage of the bills and Council Speaker Adrienne Adams’ strong leadership on this issue.”
The Council also passed the following finance item:
Resolution 362, sponsored by Finance Chair Justin Brannan, concerns the increase in the annual expenditure for the 125th Street and DUMBO Business Improvement Districts. This resolution sets the date, time and place for the hearing of the local law increasing the annual expenditure for these districts.