By Susan Edelman and Brad Hamilton
New York (NY) – The first court-ordered class of Fire Department of New York (FDNY) trainees—the oldest and most diverse in history—is flaming out.
Halfway through the 18-week fire academy course, the dropout rate has hit a sky-high 15 percent and could climb to 1/3 of the 318 who started on July 29, according to insiders.
So far, 48 trainees have dropped out. They include 23 of 123 court-ordered “priority hires,” mainly blacks and Latinos in their 30s and early 40s who took the FDNY entrance exam in 1999 or 2000 but were passed over.
The dropouts also include 23 of 176 FDNY paramedics seeking promotion and two of 20 “open competitive” candidates.
Four of eight women have also bailed. The eight were hailed as the most in an academy class since 1982, when a lawsuit forced the FDNY to bring on the first female firefighters.
In addition, an alarming number of “probies” have been injured, suffering sprains, fractures, and other ailments as well as being put on medical leave, insiders say. Others teeter on the cusp of flunking out because they can’t handle the physical or academic demands.
Dropouts have been pushed to resign rather than face termination so they can “recycle” and join the next academy class.
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