Latino Group Backs White Firefighters

by Melissa Bailey | February 6, 2009 1:16 PM | | Comments (35)

IMG_1298.JPGAs black and white firefighters joust over a landmark civil-rights case, Latino firefighters are quietly throwing in their lot with one side.

The lawsuit, Ricci v. DeStefano, was filed in 2004 by 19 white and one Latino firefighter who claimed they were denied promotion on account of their race. The case, which the U.S. Supreme Court will hear in April, has the potential to roll back affirmative action nationwide. Click here to read the suit; here and here for back stories.

Seeing the Supreme Court’s decision as a potential threat to affirmative action and racial equality in hiring, the local NAACP and the Firebirds, the black firefighters’ group, have sided with the city against the New Haven 20.

Meanwhile, the New Haven Hispanic Firefighters Association has chosen not to support the Firebirds. Instead, Assistant Drillmaster Rene Cordova (pictured), president of the Latino group, said he supports the New Haven 20 in their fight against the city. He said there is no proof that the city threw the test out on account of race; and those who passed the test have the right to a promotion.

At least one Firebird reported at an NAACP meeting that racial tensions over the lawsuit have spilled over into the firehouse.

Sitting in the cafeteria of the fire academy, Cordova and a fellow executive member of his group discussed their stance.

“You can’t blame the New Haven 20 for being upset,” said Cordova’s colleague, who declined to be named. “Their idea that they should have been promoted is actually true.”

Cordova agreed. The pair contended that the real issue isn’t about race: Instead, they argued that the way the test was designed favored “fire buffs” who have spent their whole lives reading fire suppression manuals, and studied like maniacs for the exam. Incidentally, most firefighters matching that description happened to be white, they said.

Cordova, a 23-year veteran of the city’s fire force, started the New Haven Hispanic Firefighters Association about seven years ago as a community outreach group. The group was formed as Latinos emerged as the fastest-growing racial minority on the force, which now has 372 sworn members. In 1987, there were only 10 Latino firefighters. Today, that number has multiplied to about 50, he said.

“Hook Thrown”

Cordova was among the firefighters who took a written promotional exam in November 2003, with the hopes of becoming a captain or lieutenant. He recounted how his association was approached when the results came out — but declined to get involved.

After the city crunched the numbers from the test, it determined that the top scorers were white — a result that would not help balance out the racial makeup of the fire force. Then-Chief Administrative Officer Karen Dubois-Walton called a meeting with the leaders of two minority firefighters groups.

Cordova showed up to the meeting along with a representative from the New Haven Firebirds.

“There is a problem,” Dubois-Walton told them, according to Cordova: She warned them that “If we promote, it’s not going to be fair because not enough minorities would be hired.”

Cordova characterized the meeting as a first step in a campaign to build up opposition to the test. He opted not to get involved.

“There was a hook thrown,” he said, “but we just swam by.”

The Hispanic association is not a political group. It’s a community service group, Cordova explained. The organization is more focused on community outreach, like giving gifts to children on Three Kings Day, than in picking political fights. “Why get our name and reputation caught up in it?” he asked.

After much debate, in January 2004, the city Civil Service board voted to throw out the test results. In June of that year, the New Haven 20, including one Hispanic firefighter, filed suit, claiming they had been denied promotions, and opportunities for promotions, on account of their race.

The fallout from the promotional test has sent a rift through the firefighting force.

The union membership voted to take the city to court over its choice to throw out the test. The lawsuit, New Haven Firefighters Local 825 v. City of New Haven (2005), was dismissed.

Gary Tinney, the president of the New Haven Firebirds, has publicly charged that the union’s actions regarding the test favored whites over minorities. Tinney made that charge in the preamble to an employment-related lawsuit he has filed against the union.

Tinney called the union’s lawsuit against the city “an attempt to discriminatorily and exclusively represent the interest of its majority Caucasian” firefighters. (The matter isn’t central to Tinney’s legal battle; he used the example to try to build a case that blacks were being discriminated against.)

The controversy over the test “was unfortunate,” said Cordova, “because it pitted everyone against each other. It strained relations; that’s what it did.”

“It’s now practically an all-out brawl,” added his colleague.

Cordova said he and his fellow firefighters have sought to stay out of, and rise above, the conflict.

“Everybody has a grudge” against someone, he said. “But what happens in the past is in the past. If you’re mature, you overcome the grudges” and move on.

Instead of focusing on the race question, Cordova and his board member were more concerned about creating a better test. The last one, they said, was drawn from material that included passages that weren’t relevant to New Haven firefighting. It included a variety of books, including one from a New York City-based author that didn’t seem germane to their territory.

They said the performance differential stemmed not from race, but from studying habits.

Those who aced the test were nerds who read fire-fighting books just for fun, said Cordova’s cohort. “These kids will get together” and pay famous authors, like text prep manual writer Norman Hall, to come to New Haven to speak. “They think he’s superman.”

He said those firemen aced the test by memorizing all the books — including passages that others overlooked because they didn’t find them pertinent.

While he said he believes the test wasn’t well-suited to the city force, the firefighter argued that those who devoted the time and energy to passing the exam deserve the reward of doing well on it.

“They should’ve all been promoted,” he said. “It’s a travesty.”







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Comments

Posted by: Common Sense | February 6, 2009 1:52 PM

"And now you know the rest of the story!" Renee Cordova and the New Haven Fire Department Hispanic group have taken the high road and avoided the back room politics that only created the controversy. The plotting and planning to destroy the Civil Service process has now undermined all future promotional exams in the NHFD. Get over it....put your nose and eyes into the books and stop being Monday morning quarterbacks. Get ready for the next exam and stop looking for a handout.

Posted by: Riz | February 6, 2009 5:14 PM

It only makes sense that they should stand up - Lieutenants Ben Vargas and Luis Rivera both studied hard and worked their tails off to earn promotions to Captain. They and their families got screwed because the Firebirds' leaders, upset with their own failure to succeed, want to take it out on everybody else. This kind of selfishness and stealing promotions away from brother firefighters who earned them is a low down selfish thing to do. The leadership of the Firebirds is wrecking relationships all over the NHFD and its about time that everyone just got in their face about it.

Posted by: Moreorless | February 6, 2009 8:32 PM

Showing that the city intentionally approaches racial groups and claim "There is a problem," Dubois-Walton told them, according to Cordova: She warned them that "If we promote, it's not going to be fair because not enough minorities would be hired."
The test was fair, and was proven to be by a validation study completed and given to the city. Because one race does well over another, does not constitute (Un-Fairness,) these are terms meant to make minorities feel ripped off, which they weren't. You go Rene, don't stoop to the level of the Tinney's and such, and try to get a do-over based on racial claims.

Posted by: DAFeder | February 6, 2009 10:27 PM

I guess what we really need to know is whether being a "fire buff" makes you a better firefighter (or really, a better captain or lieutenant.) If it does not -- and that is certainly plausible, if I'm reading Cordova's comments correctly -- then we're looking at a test which privileges a trait that tracks with ethnicity over effective fire fighting. And if there are bad promotional guidelines that privilege a racial group AND less effective fire fighters in positions of authority because of it... shouldn't Cordova and his organization speak up against it? _That_ would be a public service.

David

Posted by: FriendofJohnny | February 6, 2009 10:50 PM

It goes to prove that the one who comes out on top studies the hardest. New Haven Civil Service exams appear to be focused on promoting those that don't study and get handouts anyway. When is this small group of politically motivated city culprits going to understand they are messing with the lives of firefighters and have done so for many years. Just look back at all the lawsuits. Why does the city hire testing companies they can direct teir way. Studying hard and devoting your life to a job doesn't mean anything to those that work in that HR office. They have never been faced with life and death situations, the effects of heat and smoke and seeing a person die in a fire. But they sure can and know how to follow instructions on how to be sure those non fire geeks get promoted. Time will tell who will survive the heat this time.

Posted by: Amigo | February 6, 2009 11:30 PM

Finally a leader from the Hispanic community speaks his mind. I applaud Rene Cordova for his comments. Shame on Jorge Perez for not standing up for the promotions of three Hispanic Lieutenants to Captain. The public might not realize the civil service list is good for up to two years. With retirements and attrition the city would have been able to promote three qualified Blacks to Lieutenant and two or maybe three Hispanics to Captain. Jorge you may have a sharp tongue but you need to get some backbone. Eventually you'll get tired a being used for the convenience of Kimbers stats. Benny good luck.

Posted by: Sick of Handouts | February 7, 2009 12:23 AM

Certainly being a fire buff is not the "only thing" that should be measured. It is, however, one indication that should be included. How many of us would like to have a MD prescribing medication based soley on that doctor's personality trait of compassion.

Listen firebirds, you guys get paid very well for being firefighters. No one doubts your courage. However, your white counterparts are equally courageous and have equally good decision making ability. There has to be tie breaker.... Welcome to the Real World. You guys were required to study for a test. Studying is not just a White Thing it's a Professional Thing. Next Time - Study.

Posted by: Bill | February 7, 2009 7:10 AM

Why should the Whites or Hispanics accept discrimination?

Posted by: JAK | February 7, 2009 8:01 AM

DAFEDER

"...that privileges a trait that tracks with ethnicty..."

David, What trait might that be? Is being a "fire buff" some kind of ethnic trait? Or perhaps you mean studying "like a maniac"? Is that an ethnic trait?

The question you raise as to whether the test truly helps to differentiate between highly effective firefighters and/or promotion candidates is a legitimate one. But unless I mis-interpreted your comments, it sounds like you are on the verge of ethnic stereo-typing.

Posted by: robn | February 7, 2009 9:26 AM

DAFEDER,

Booklearning isn't a substitute for the guts it takes to run into a burning building, but neither is guts a substitute for learning. A fire in a building is a complicated living thing and the officers who are directing firefighters into a burning building should have the utmost knowledge about their practice. If the city wants to take affirmative action they should devote an educational resource to minority firefighters (instead of deveoting resources to a lawsuit which I believe they will lose).

Posted by: tedcpt | February 7, 2009 9:47 AM

To Dafeder: WHAT ARE YOU THINKING??? What do racial or ethnic "traits" have to do with knowing the right answers to questions about principles of building construction and collapse, which bio-chemicals are absorbed by the skin, fire behavior, use of proper equipment and lines of attack, and knowledge of proper response protocols to a public disaster or terrorist attack? You sound like someone who obviously knows NOTHING about our profession. Are you perhaps speaking from an armchair over at Yale? Your loony comments are just a diversion from the reality of our jobs. Please get out of our lives with your nonsense. You and people who think like you are a danger to us and to the public.

Posted by: DAFeder | February 7, 2009 10:24 AM

ROBN,

I absolutely get your point about help with test training. It's obviously an available commodity, which a group of "nerds" -- white nerds, evidently -- exploited to their benefit. But are guts and book learnin' the only options here? How about leadership, judgment, and the ability to process and adapt critical information? I'm a historian who studies politics -- that doesn't make me a statesman. I take a mean SAT, though.

David

Posted by: Perception | February 7, 2009 4:10 PM

DAFEDER, perhaps the use of the term "fire-buff" is not the best for this situation. A "buff" can be someone with an interest in the fire department, with no affiliation to one. The situation proposed by Mr. Cordova sounds more like a highly dedicated member of the fire service. Who would you trust more- a doctor who stopped learning about techniques after med school, or the doctor who continued to read and take classes after graduation. I would argue that the individual, regardless of profession, who continues to sharpen their skills and knowlege would tend to be among the top of their group. The fact that these individuals would take their own time and often money to do so, also shows the dedication to the job. That is called going the extra mile. And who ultimately benefits? The citizens, patients, clients etc. who place their trust in them. I don't agree with Cordovas comment that the test was designed to "favor Fire buffs". The test was designed to favor individuals who were able to read, comprehend and recall information that was given to them. The more time and effort put into a subject, the more likely a person will recall it.

Posted by: robn | February 7, 2009 6:51 PM

DAFEDER,

I see your point, but civil service tests are designed to prevent favortism ..it would seem to be difficult to introduces subjective judgements (presumably from superiors) about leadership skills without reintroducing cronyism. I don't know for sure, but I would guess that there is some fire dept mechanism for freezing or demoting someone who finds themselves in a position that they can't handle (I hope...)

Posted by: Heat Mizer | February 7, 2009 8:52 PM

Mr. DAFEDER, or David, get to know the firefighting profession before you start trying to Monday morning quarterback the situation from a few NH Indy & Register articles. The "fire buff" is an ethnicity now--what country are they from? FYI--White, Hispanic & Black Firefighters I know, all studied in groups, most of which were mixed race. Your theory is as ridiculous as the anti-test side--it is the equivalent of saying that someone who goes to college has an unfair advantage over a person with a GED. If you want everyone to be happy--go back to kindergarten. If you want something bad enough like the "fire buffs," you put the effort in to achieve it. To negate the commitment of these "fire buffs," and then claim the test was written just for them is ludicrous. The test favored them because they had more heart & soul invested in the job than most others. Just an FYI, not all on the top of the list were "fire buffs" either, only some of them were--just goes to show people like you, that the test favored all who studied, not just the "fire buffs."...I can assure you, all that passed the test, have more guts & commitment to the citizens of New Haven, than those that didn't. Don't feel sorry for people who did not strive hard to achieve the goal, and don't punish those who did. Spread your theory across every profession, and tell me you want to live in that country--honestly--I doubt it--just think about using your ideology in your own profession.

Posted by: Ed on State St. | February 7, 2009 9:06 PM

I would not want an under-qualified firefighter in a position they do not deserve. Affirmative Action is ok for sociology professors and the like but when lives are on the line, I'm sure we all want the best and brightest.

Posted by: TedCpt | February 7, 2009 11:48 PM

DAFEDER: Once again, with all due respect to your good intentions, you are speaking out of complete ignorance. You ask: "How about leadership, judgment, and the ability to process and adapt critical information?" Well, if you knew your facts you would know that the exam process had TWO phases. The first phase involved the written exam, which was a job knowledge exam - that tests all the substantive knowledge (fire science, building construction, bio-chem, SOPs, tactical protocols, etc.) The second phase was a non-written, oral assessment where a multi-racial panel of 30 fire professionals from around the U.S. were brought in to interview the candidates and have them articulate their responses to various incident scenarios. That second half of the exam tests for, guess what? Leadership skills, judgment and the ability to process and adapt critical information. Now, with that, will you please stop bothering us?? Bottom line is, all this Monday morning quarterbacking from academics and armchair liberals based on complete ignorance of fire department testing is really getting on our nerves.

Posted by: DAFeder | February 8, 2009 9:33 AM

TEDCPT,

Just looking at the evidence from the article, really. I assume Rene Cordova knows a great deal about fighting fires, and according to the article, he or his board thought the test included "...passages that weren't relevant to New Haven firefighting," and, "a variety of books...that didn't seem germane to their territory," and "passages that others overlooked because they didn't find them pertinent."

Based on that evidence, it seems like we'd have a better department if promotion relied on better tests. I agree with PERCEPTION -- more and better studying can't be bad, and should be rewarded. But the department (and city, ultimately) have a responsibility, too -- and that is to make sure the test really rewards useful ability, not just the ability to take tests. The best indicator of a good surgeon is actually the number of surgeries he or she has performed. But I still want my surgeon to study like crazy.

As far as "racial or ethnic traits," TEDCPT -- that's not a phrase I used. But recognizing a racial bias in society is not the same as being a racist. An example: Latinos are underrepresented in the US Air Force (compared to population percentage), but overrepresented in the US Marines, compared to any other ethnic group. Therefore, joining the marines tracks with ethnicity.

Same thing with the exam, according to Cordova and his colleague: some firefighters, "studied like maniacs for the exam. Incidentally, most firefighters matching that description happened to be white, they said."

David

ps/ not at Yale, no armchair. Sorry.

Posted by: Jabari | February 9, 2009 9:28 AM

This case is as much about discrimination as it is about affirmative action. It is about what constitutes discrimination. Most of us say that we oppose discrimination, but we do not have a legal nor a practical definition of discrimination. Federald law and state law state that any selection practice or criteria that creates adverse impact on any group may be illegal discrimination. Federal law states that all tests used to make selection decisions must validated. An employer does not have to use a test that has an adverse impact on particular groups. The law states that if a test has adverse impact, the employer must be able to prove that there are no viable alternatives and that there is a "business necessity" to continue using such a test.

Posted by: Yet Again | February 9, 2009 10:43 AM

It is amazing to me that whenever this issue comes up, some set of insiders wants us to believe that being a firefighter is the hardest job intellectually in the world. Apparently one needs a graduate level knowledge of physics, chemistry and "fire science." Only some set of extremely brilliant individuals can be officers in the New Haven fire department because they are the only ones who could pass the test.

Despite their extreme intellect, these individuals chose to pass up taking the MCATS and becoming doctors because of their love of the fire profession.

Forget for a moment that these same brain surgeons also manage to choke each other in the station but not get held responsible by their MENSA bosses, jump out of a city vehicle to jack up a lawyer, apparently show up drunk with some regularity, and had a history of exploiting the overtime rules by calling in sick so that their friends could get overtime while they still got paid. Forget further that the majority of them do not pay taxes in the city of New Haven because they don't live here.

Forget all of that and while you are at it, forget that the union worked to stop a charter initiative which would have allowed the chief to be hired from someone who had not worked in the New Haven department, a rule that does not apply to a single other department in the city. Apparently this is because fires are different in New Haven and the department is filled with the single largest number of brilliant people on the face of the earth. So brilliant that they should not have to compete against anyone else.

Please just forget all of that. Let's be sure our department of outsiders paid for by the residents of this city continues to be the old boys club that these folks want it to be. Because they have never used anything other than their extreme intellect to get ahead. I mean that's how they got their jobs in the first place right -- there were no connections involved in becoming a New Haven firefighter were there?

Posted by: TedCpt | February 9, 2009 11:07 AM

Defeder: What are you saying? That if a majority of the most qualified and knowledegable happen to be white there is something wrong with that?? I thought the purpose of the exam process was to do just that - get the most knowledgeable and qualified. The goal is getting the best people, not a diverse group of the so-so. That is not in the public interest; it is also an unsafe practice in such a dangerous job. As for any who claimed there were one or two "irrelevant" questions on the exam that allegedly related to NYC practices, just because somebody says that doesn't make it true. That was just sour grapes and a red herring and refuted easily. As it happened, the very people who made that FALSE claim are the very people who flunked the test and were angling for reasons to get the city to toss the results. Not to mention the fact that one irrelevant question on an exam with 200 question would have nothing to do with RACE. Any time there is a test and blacks fail at a higher rate, you are always going to see people throwing up bogus claims that this or that question was unfair. In fact, leaders of the Firebirds, in a despicable act, publicly accused whites of "cheating" on the exam. Even the city admitted that was a completely false allegation. So you see what lengths the flunkers will go to to rob other people of their justly-earned promotions. Interviewed right after the test, the vast majority of test-takers, including minorities, said they thought the test was fair and job-related. Then the scores came out and a few who were resentful over failing the exams all of sudden started making noises about unfairness. They are just sore losers and whiners. And to "JABARI", you don't know what you are talking about. Under the law, the minorities who were complaining, and NOT the city, had to "prove" there was an equally valid alternative test. They came up with NADA because there is no equally valid alternative to a test that accurately measured the candidates' knowledge. Either you know the stuff or you don't. If you can't answer a multiple choice question about which of four chemicals is absorbed by the skin (because you don't know the darn answer) you are gonna know that darn answer in another test? Give me a break.

Posted by: correction please | February 9, 2009 11:31 AM

Jabari,
Your first 2 statements are accurate, "Federald law and state law state that any selection practice or criteria that creates adverse impact on any group may be (emphasis added) illegal discrimination" and "Federal law states that all tests used to make selection decisions must be validated". Your next statement"An employer does not have to use a test that has an adverse impact on particular groups" is not. If that was clear law than the Supreme court would not be reviewing this case. Your final statement,"The law states that if a test has adverse impact, the employer must be able to prove that there are no viable alternatives and that there is a business necessity to continue using such a test" is off base. What the law states is if the selection procedure used creates an adverse impact than an employer must show that the test is valid and that there is business necessity for use. As far as viable alternatives that is not the burden of the employer but the burden of a plaintiff to show that the are equally valid ways of testing that do not create adverse impact and that the employer was aware or should have been aware of the existance. You should also note that the City of New Haven admitted that the test was valid. So what this lawsuit is about essentially is can an employer violate the rights of one group while purporting to not want to violate the law, as they claim to understand it, and the rights of another group. Based off race criteria.

Posted by: Patty | February 9, 2009 1:02 PM

That's right "yet again", you don't need any brains to lead first responders. No need to know fire behavior, no need to understand rescue protocols or properties of air and gases. No need to understand bio-chemical threats. So, let's hope that when you are hanging out the window of a high-rise, with carbon dioxide choking off your breathing and the flames licking at you, that one of the guys who flunked this exam leads the charge to save you - perhaps if that is the caase, we won't have to listen to you anymore. AND, as to your sarcastic comment about the indicent of a drunken firefighter assaulting a lawyer, you forot to mention that the offender was a black Firebird, not one of the Ricci plaintiffs who manage to avoid engaging in such gross behavior.

Posted by: AJNIN | February 9, 2009 1:25 PM

Does the law require the Fire Dept to have a specific percentage of "Black" Officers? If so, then they should have come out and said,"We have 2 officer slots available for "whites", 3 for Hispanics, and 5 for "blacks"
Ridiculous, isn't it. But I don't see it any other way if the "blacks" have rights to a given percentage of officer positions. After all, they received a lower standard of education all their lives,(atleast that's what they say in the firehouses)and therefore will always score lower than the whites.
Now if they DON'T have a right(by law) to a specific percentage of those officer slots, then their bickering should lead to nothing.

Unfortunately, in this country there is so much racial tension that politics decides what they think is best for a select few. Doesn't surprise me if the court sides with the city and the firebirds.

Posted by: DAFeder | February 9, 2009 2:03 PM

TEDCPT,

I'm really not saying any of those things. If you look back at my original post, you'll see that my point is this: if Cordova & co. believe the test was flawed (or improperly-focused or unbalanced or biased), and if they see, as they state, that there is a racial bias that tracks with that flaw, then isn't it better for the quality of the firefighting in this town to take a stand, rather than "go along to get along"?

I don't have any way of evaluating your claims of sour grapes, red herrings, and so forth, but I imagine Rene Cordova does. And whatever his ultimate conclusion, he seems to think the problems were significant.

I do know that some tests _are_ racially or culturally-biased, and that sometimes groups _do_ perform badly because of built-in bias. Not everyone raising a ruckus about test results has a valid argument, but it's always valid to look. Especially when an expert -- in this case, Mr. Cordova -- sees smoke. The fact that he doesn't think it's worth yelling about doesn't mean there's no fire.

David

Posted by: nfjanette [TypeKey Profile Page] | February 9, 2009 3:30 PM

So, let's hope that when you are hanging out the window of a high-rise, with carbon dioxide choking off your breathing and the flames licking at you, that one of the guys who flunked this exam leads the charge to save you - perhaps if that is the caase, we won't have to listen to you anymore.

Wouldn't carbon monoxide be the primary concern, followed by toxic gases from various inorganic compounds produced from burning plastics, etc.?

Posted by: BCPS | February 9, 2009 4:51 PM

Would a "fire buff" who has read all the material that was to be on the exam make a better officer ? - probably, does it show more desire and dedication to the profession of firefighting definitely ! Let us not throw out, or lessen the value of the written requirement , but for the sake of the taxpayers of the city, lets also introduce a fire fighter's previous performance record - a fire fighter's attendance record, a fire fighter's list of achievements/ qualifications, and a fire fighter's disciplinary record as factors to help decide who should be promoted into a supervisory role - Those who topped the list, that the NH 20 have gone to court over, have been cheated for over 2 years , but so have the New Haven taxpayers who haven't had these men in such life and death decision making positions. I commend F.F. Cordova for his candor - Remember by any means necessary also includes studying -

Posted by: Heat Mizer | February 9, 2009 4:51 PM

Mr Dafeder--Your Quote-"Especially when an expert -- in this case, Mr. Cordova -- sees smoke." How is it in your mind that Mr. Cordova is an "expert," but the firefighters who comment on this board are not. If I tell you I worked with metal, do you then want me to build you bridge? The "Experts" that did testify stated that the test was pertinent to the NHFD, and validated by the testing company as such. Mr. Cordova, although a very nice guy, is not an officer with the NHFD. He is a AHJ certified instructor for the NHFD. What makes him an expert? You clearly take one side that supports your view & run with it. The books that were used for the test are widely accepted by the NFPA, thousands of Fire Departments, & Fire Science programs as "Bibles." The questions that are in question on the test, were thrown out. Just to let you know, it was 2 questions (1 on each test, Lt. & Cpt.,) not the entire test, however, the answers were in the material. It still did not matter, the results were the same. The NHFD does over 22000 runs a year, I ask you, who is inexperienced then? The answer is none of the guys & gals are. You get out what you put into your job. The men & women who took the test were measured in a nationally accepted standard ( Written & Oral testing.) For a test to be racially biased, one race has to have information that is "Racially or Ethnically" bread into them. How does that relate to Firefighting? It does not--therefore the test is not racially biased. Firefighters have to at least have a HS Diploma, and many have AS or BS. How does a HS Dipl. person compete with a BS--study that--oh, wait here were the results. The only advantage anyone had was the ability to retain information, and regurgitate it at an oral exam. If you added level of experience, the test results would still probably not change. What is your next excuse or angle.

Posted by: TedCpt | February 9, 2009 8:11 PM

Dafeder - I think you are just biased. Codova is no "expert" - he's just a firefighter and not even a commander - and did he pass the test?? Did he even see it? The experts are the testing professionals and they declared this test valid and job related. To suggest that objective job knowledge tests are racially or culturally biased is such crap. Whether you are black, white or purple, the fact is YOU NEED TO KNOW THIS STUFF TO DO THE JOB. Do you really want unlicensed electricians, doctors, lawyers, nurses, teachers, etc running around who failed their occupational qualifying tests on some stupid theory that these tests are "culturally" biased? If you don't have what it takes and don't have the knowledge, you don't get the job. Case closed.

Posted by: Firendof Johnny | February 10, 2009 1:21 PM

To the Heat Mizer: When considering the educational level of New Haven Firefighters, I really wonder how many firefighters and Fire Officers have college degrees. As a matter of fact how many Chief Officers have degrees? How many participate in professional development and how many are certified Firefighter 1's. Speaking of degrees, why does the City Charter require the Police Chief to have a degree and not the Fire Chief? Does the City administration really believe that providing fire services requires less knowledge? The fact is to be a good fire chief in todays world, a college degree is a must. Although the fire union doesn't see it that way and will not let the position go to the outside - I guess they are simply protecting one of their own once again. It's time for a change in the guard.

Posted by: Heat Mizer | February 10, 2009 5:12 PM

To Firendof Johnny: Obviously you know nothing about the city of New Haven, the Fire Dept., and its Charter. Every firefighter on the NHFD is a FFI, many are FFII's & Fire Service Instructors. A FFI cert is a state/OSHA requirement to enter into burning buildings. I do not know how many officers actually have degrees, my point is that the tops of the officers list contained many who do--get it now. The Chief is under the Mayor's control, not the Union. The job requirement was changed several years ago so that the Mayor could pick Chief Grant because he does not posses any degree. Many would agree that an outside Chief would do the NHFD a great service. Fresh ideas might inspire a change of attitude. Your criticism is misdirected at the Firefighters & Union--we row the boat. The Mayor & Boise Kimber steer it, so shoot your gun in that direction if you want change so bad. To answer your question, yes the city admin (Mayor, HR, B. Kimber) do not want to require college degrees because that would limit which minorities could get the jobs. You see only certain people are important--not everyone--get it. The reason the NHFD is at a crisis level with the amount of Paramedics it has is because most paramedics are either white or female. They don't want to hire Paramedics only because it would exclude many minority races, not all, but many.

Posted by: Patrick Egan | February 10, 2009 6:33 PM

Yet Again, Friend of Johnny:
As President of the Fire Fighters Union you should be aware of a couple of things. First of all we opposed the charter revision not based off the issue with hiring a chief from the outside but based off the proposal to change the hiring/promotional process from the selection of the top 3 scores to the top 7 ranks, which would have effectively gutted the intent of the civil service process. Secondly the fire chief is required by charter to have a degree. Please get your facts right!

Posted by: Luiz Pena | April 22, 2009 7:09 PM

Okay folks, being hispanic is not a race, The white, black and asian latinos... it is not a race. as a Black Hispanic, would only figure that my white hispanic brothers would go with the whites

Posted by: LAR | June 30, 2009 9:31 AM

Sounds like a non-valid test, a test that is not a predictor of future performance. Of interest is that the Union contract required such a test and high weight of the test. Betcha the white guys insisted on that. Want to know why unions have declined so much the last 30 years? Because women and minorities figured out there was no reason to belong to an organization that didn't actually represent them.

Posted by: Bill | October 4, 2009 4:53 PM

Should all tests be graded on a curve to give 1 or more minorites a better grade ? Like, a 10 point advantage ? This would also require unfair questions like what is a ladde ? Why don't the white firefighters have a group ? This is racism to not let them have a group. Whites are always suppressed and wath out Latinos , you are'nt far behind.

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