There are more than 11,000 firefighters and fire officers in the New York Fire Department, making it the nation’s largest. It is more overwhelmingly white than its police counterpart: 75 percent of firefighters in New York are white, compared to 47 percent of police officers, according to departmental data.
In recent years, department leaders have embraced diversity initiatives and welcomed historically diverse classes into the academy. Daniel A. Nigro, the Fire Department commissioner appointed by Mayor Bill de Blasio in 2014, said in an interview that the department was working to become more inclusive.
As recently as 2019, wariness of women and people of color joining the department was written into a Fire Department training bulletin for managers.
“Motivation in firefighting is largely a matter of team building,” one section read. “Team building encounters special problems when the team has to readjust to new members, minorities or females, or members who are problems because they do not behave.”
Frank Dwyer, a department spokesman, confirmed that the guidance, which was originally written in 1997, had remained in training materials until it was removed in 2019, as part of a departmentwide effort to purge outdated language. “This does not reflect the F.D.N.Y. today,” he said.
For a half-hour window last April, Black firefighters had an unfiltered view into the racism in their department.
A secret, anonymous text message thread between a group of white firefighters was leaked
Saturday, October 2, 2021
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