Last week, Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley backed a bill that would to raise the maximum age for an applicant from 28 to 30, with a 5 year window. “Ms. Crowley’s bill also mandates a 35-year-old cut-off for when a successful applicant can actually join the FDNY.”, via an article posted this week on The Chief-Leader. Crowley is currently the Chair of the Committee on Fire and Criminal Justice. During a lengthy hearing on October 19th, the bill received no shortage of both praise and grave concern. Vincent Variale, President of Local 3621, FDNY EMS Lieutenants and Captains union, notes that a history of high EMS-to-Firefighter turnover rates makes it difficult for the EMS to retain its workforce. It is theorized that raising the age limit for firefighters would only exacerbate this trend.
A nuanced question of safety trickled through the discussion as well- less FDNY EMT’s on hand means less FDNY ambulances: “These shortages force the use of unreliable, for-profit, private ambulance companies instead of FDNY ambulances to provide service in the 911 system.”, Vincent Variale told The Chief-Leader in the article linked at the bottom of this page. This same article notes the fact that after the EMS and FDNY came together 21 years ago, EMS members were able to take a promotional exam to become firefighters.
Isreal Miranda, President of DC 37 Local 2507, shared Variale’s concerns. “With one year on the job and at least [a score of] 75 on the written exam a person will get the preference over a person with a 100 [score] who was on the open public competitive test.” Miranda stated. A method for gaining more firefighters was proposed, but no solutions to stave off the attrition rate for the FDNY EMS was put on the table. Although the council chair stated in the article from the Chief Leader that there was an area for compromise, it states no remedies.
All this being said, the bill wasn’t meant to be a detriment to the FDNY EMS. The age limit made with the idea that it will “…help the city achieve its goal of increasing the representation of both women and people of color in the firefighting ranks.” as quoted in an article on The Chief-Leader, linked below. Sarinya Srisakul, President of United Women Firefighters, supports raising the age maximum. Srisakul pointed out that over half of major cities don’t have an age limit, and the cities that do have an age cap of 35 yrs old. She went as far as to say that the age cap could be seen as discriminatory if no data proved it was necessary. Also present at the hearing were millennials who are currently too old to apply to be firefighters when it was something they wanted for various reasons extremely close to heart. Raising the age cap would give these individuals the opportunity to achieve a dream. “Shizam Dalbarry moved to the U.S.from Trinidad when he was nine, and now has five years on the job as an EMT. He long dreamed of becoming a Firefighter, but said he ultimately gravitated to EMS because it included a good representation of people of color.” expressed The Chief-Leader. Some of these people weren’t even in the FDNY EMS, so they don’t have the opportunity to take a promotional exam-let alone being too old to apply for the position. The bill would change that. FDNY Deputy Commissioner for Government Affairs stated that this would also give rank opportunities to people who don’t come from families or neighborhoods that have a trend of this career path.
The bill was made not to take opportunities away from the FDNY EMS, but to give opportunities to the public. However, it is feared that raising the age cap ultimately will funnel more EMS members out to the Firefighter ranks.
For sources and more information, click the article below.