FDNY HOT FOR MINORITIES

By FRANKIE EDOZIEN


April 3, 2002 --
Fire Department officials are gearing up for a multimillion-dollar media blitz this spring to recruit more minorities and women, officials said yesterday.

"The image of firefighters and the contributions they make has never been higher or more visible," said Fire Commissioner Nicholas Scoppetta.

"The public has not been more knowledgeable about what goes on behind firehouse doors and the risks they take, so we can use all of that," he added.

Currently, the FDNY's 11,300-person workforce is 92.5 percent white and male and there are only 29 women in the entire firefighting force.

"We are initiating a new multimedia advertising campaign specifically targeting minorities and women who are 18 to 24 years old," Scoppetta told the City Council's Committee on Fire and Criminal Justice.

Organizations such as the Urban League and the Harlem Chamber of Commerce also are being enlisted to assist with grassroots recruitment efforts.

"I think it's about time the [FDNY made] a concerted effort to recruit minorities," said Councilman Ruben Diaz (D-Bronx). "I hope that things will change."

Since the department is making a $48 million cut in its budget, the funding for the media campaign is not currently included in the department's budget.

"We're trying to raise some money so we can do it from private sources," Scoppetta said.

The black firefighters group, the Vulcan Society, recommended that a recruitment unit of 70 minority members be established.

Meanwhile, the proposed budget cuts the department will take won't result in the closing of any firehouses or reduce the number of trucks. But fire marshals will be reassigned to firefighting, so some fires won't be inspected for arson, officials said.




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