Scant applications for FDNY test


Despite worldwide appreciation for the city's firefighters, applications to join the Bravest have dropped dramatically, officials said yesterday.

So far, 7,062 people have signed up to take the Fire Department written exam in November, which drew 23,167 applicants in 1999, the last time it was given.

The FDNY's $4.3 million recruitment drive also has fallen short of its goal of diversifying the department, which is 93% white male, officials said. As of Sept. 2, just 7% of the applicants were African-American and 12% were Hispanic, according to the Department of Citywide Administrative Services.

"I'm disappointed that we are not getting more minority applications," said Fire Commissioner Nicholas Scoppetta, who has been giving recruitment speeches at black churches.

The risks of the job, demonstrated as never before by the deaths of 343 FDNY members at the World Trade Center, and the $32,724 starting salary have kept the overall number of applications down, union officials said.

"Everyone always knew that firefighting was dangerous, but now people have woken up to the reality that it's more dangerous than they ever thought," said Deputy Chief Nicholas Visconti, Fire Chiefs Representative for the Uniformed Fire Officers Association.

Scoppetta called the salary "quite good," considering that a senior firefighter makes $50,000 and those promoted up the ranks earn upwards of $100,000.

He said he was optimistic that applications will rise dramatically by the Sept. 30 deadline. If not, he said he will consider extending the filing deadline for the Nov. 23 test.

Administrative Services spokesman Warner Johnston said most applicants traditionally wait until the last few weeks to file.