NYC Mayor Eric Adams works to improve diversity in the city’s fire department

In September, FDNY officials admitted they were having trouble addressing bias claims while enlarging the department's demographics. 

New York City Mayor Eric Adams has given his signature to a set of laws that will increase diversity within the Fire Department of New York.

According to Spectrum News NY1, Adams said the first of the five measures would mandate that the FDNY concentrate its hiring efforts on underrepresented populations.

“Our city is changing. Our city is evolving,” Adams said Monday at a bill signing ceremony, Spectrum reported. “And when we allow change to embrace tradition, we make ourselves a better place.”

NYC Mayor Eric Adams, Commissioner Laura Kavanagh FDNY
New York City Mayor Eric Adams (left), pictured with NYC Fire Commissioner Laura Kavanagh (right), has signed off on five bills aimed at improving diversity within the city’s fire department. (Photo: Screenshot/ Mayor’s Office)

A second bill will require the organization to assess its firehouses to determine whether any renovations are needed to establish workplaces appropriate for a “mixed-gender staff.”

The third piece of legislation mandates that FDNY submit annual demographics information for each of its firehouses and special operations units, which must include information on the gender, race and ethnicity of persons who live in the companies’ “immediate service areas.”

The fourth bill mandates creating and implementing a diversity- and inclusion-focused training and education plan. Per the fifth measure, a yearly report must detail complaints made to the department’s Equal Employment Opportunity office, and the agency’s responses must be submitted.

Laura Kavanagh, the first woman to lead the FDNY after Adams appointed her as commissioner last month, welcomed the bills the mayor signed and their expected improvements. She expressed excitement for the bright future of the city and its fire department.

“I know that this is an organization that we talk about with tradition, and it certainly has those great traditions,” said Kavanagh, according to Spectrum. “We will always be brave and honorable, but change has also been a fundamental part of our story, and of the city’s story.”

According to data released by the FDNY on Monday, 74 percent of the city’s uniformed firefighters are white; 15 percent are Hispanic; 9 percent are Black; and 2 percent are Asian. The department reported that only 144 — or roughly 1.3 percent — of the city’s approximately 11,000 firefighters are women.

In September, FDNY officials admitted they were having trouble addressing discrimination claims within the organization while also enlarging the department’s demographics. 

Adams is taking action in response to the issue, saying in a statement that the five City Council-approved bills will “help build a more inclusive FDNY that is reflective of the millions of New Yorkers we serve.”

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