'Fat' FDNY medics are flunking fire academy
During the first week of the academy, 166 of the probies flunked the physical-fitness test
The New York Post
NEW YORK — 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 graduate. "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. 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 coursesin 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.
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 FDNY Rant.
"Fatbodies!" wrote "queenstl." A retired city medic wasn't surprised by the flabby failures.
"EMS people are fat - we're like the AV squad at school," he told The Post.
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 before."
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.
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 class.