Fatter FDNY recruits failing
By BRAD HAMILTON
Last Updated: 10:15 AM, March 3, 2013
They're New York's Fattest.
The Fire Department's new class of recruits - all current city EMTs or
paramedics who want to become firefighters - are flaming out fast, failing
the Fire Academy in record numbers, according to FDNY sources.
As many as 30 of the 318 probationary trainees - who are older, weaker and
fatter than those in previous years - have already quit, and more are
expected to drop out before their 18-week course on Randalls Island
concludes in May, the sources said.
During the first week of the academy, 166 of the probies flunked the
physical-fitness test - which requires four pull-ups, 30 push-ups in one
minute, 30 sit-ups in one minute and a 1.5-mile run in 12 minutes.
Recruits are required to pass the physical-fitness test in order to
"There are a lot of people saying this is the worst FDNY class in the
department's history," said a source.
The oversized and under-performing candidates will be given remedial
physical training. They'll also catch a break on the running requirements,
according to one high-ranking FDNY insider.
"They're allowing them to do it in 13 or 14 minutes," he said.
The Academy class, the first in the FDNY since 2008, was formed after a
federal judge forced the department to become more racially diverse, finding
that its recruitment practices discriminated against minorities.
So FDNY Commissioner Salvatore Cassano excluded applicants from the general
population for this Academy class, limiting the pool to medics, whose ranks
include a higher percentage of minorities than is found in firehouses.
This year's class is the most diverse ever - 42 percent are black, Hispanic
or Asian, and six are women.
But they were rated only on a written exam. In years past, applicants had to
score high on both a written and a physical test.
About 870 medics took the written test and were ranked by score. But 300
were dropped after failing a cardiovascular stress test on a stair-climbing
machine, sources said.
More flunked out when they failed to complete an obstacle course in time,
failing at such tasks as dragging a hose and a weighted dummy, carrying
equipment, and raising a ladder. Insiders note this Candidate Physical
Ability Test is less challenging than the one required for graduation.
So instead of plucking the cream of the EMT crop, the department "had to
keep going farther down the list," a source said.
"On the open exam for the general public, only candidates who score a 97 are
likely to be called," said the source. "But because so many of this class
flunked their Stair Master, [scores] went as low as 72."
Veteran firefighters are fuming over the quality of the new recruits.
"Seems to me that the EMS Promotional Candidates came to work unprepared and
half of them out of shape," posted "Duke" on firefighter-complaint Web site
"Fatbodies!" wrote "queenstl." A retired city medic wasn't surprised by the
"EMS people are fat - we're like the AV squad at school," he told The Post.
"You sit in an ambulance for 8 to 16 hours a day. When are you supposed to
A quartermaster was overheard saying about the new class, "I've never given
out so many size-38 pants before."
The department's own EMS Academy head, Lt. David Russell, admitted in a 2011
report that even when FDNY recruits from EMS got extra help, "the overall
fitness of these recruits is still poor."
Cassano seemed to acknowledge this when he told the class, "The next 18
weeks will be the most difficult of your life and will push you like never
The 318 entered the academy on Jan. 15 - and quickly began dropping out.
Four left on Jan. 30, including a 29-year-old from Brooklyn who notched the
highest written-exam score, a 100.
At least one man left because he didn't realize he'd be taking a pay cut.
A first-year firefighter makes $39,370, more than $4,000 a year less than
the paramedic's starting salary of $43,690. EMTs start at $31,981.
FDNY spokesman Frank Gribbon acknowledged the losses. "We've got people
dropping out - every day it changes, almost. I don't have exact numbers."
He claimed the rate was "about the same as it usually is," then conceded it
might be "slightly higher" this year. Yet he defended the fitness of the
"They all had to pass to get in," he said. "Every day there is physical
training, and it is rigorous.