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PR- 281-06
August 7, 2006


“The Best Job in the World Has the Best Benefits in the World” Campaign Features FDNY Firefighters from Diverse Backgrounds

Television, Radio and Print Advertising Campaign Launches in August – Full Recruitment Outreach Campaign Already in Full Swing

Filing for the Fire Department Firefighter Exam Opens Today

One year after investing an unprecedented $3.2 million in the New York City Fire Department’s Recruitment and Diversity Unit and on the first day of open filing for the firefighter exam, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and Fire Commissioner Nicholas Scoppetta today launched the new FDNY recruitment campaign – “The Best Job in the World Has the Best Benefits in the World.” Aimed at increasing diversity within the Department, the advertising campaign features FDNY firefighters touting the benefits of joining the Department, including flexible work schedules, generous benefits and the ability to retire after 20 years of service. Coupled with an intensive citywide outreach campaign at career fairs, athletic clubs, colleges, cultural events and churches, the innovative advertising campaign will begin to appear on televisions, in newspapers and on radios later this month. The Mayor and Fire Commissioner were joined by Chief of Department Salvatore Cassano, Chairman and Chief Creative Officer of the Arnell Group Peter Arnell, members of FDNY fraternal organizations and other FDNY officials at the Engine 231/Ladder 120 firehouse in Brownsville.

“The strength of the Fire Department lies in its members and increasing the diversity of the FDNY will strengthen the greatest fire department in the world,” said Mayor Bloomberg. “This new campaign tells the public what firefighters have long known – being a firefighter is a great job with great benefits. With flexible work schedules and generous benefits after retirement, firefighters have an unusually good opportunity to balance work and family life. We want to get that message out to young people across our City who may have never considered public service. Take a second look, answer the call and become one of New York’s Bravest.”

“Everyone knows that firefighters save lives for a living,” said Commissioner Scoppetta.  “This campaign highlights the lesser known side of the job – that firefighters have lifelong medical coverage, flexible schedules, a pension after 20 years and significant growth opportunities.  This chance only comes once every four years – so make sure to apply.”

The new campaign includes eight different print ads in four languages (English, Spanish, Korean and Chinese), one television spot and three radio spots produced in both English and Spanish. The print ads will be placed in newspapers, on billboards, in the subways and on buses throughout the City. Television and radio spots will run on local stations throughout the open exam filing period which runs from August 7 to October 13.

In addition to targeted advertising, the Department will maintain contact with interested candidates to assist them in navigating the application process.  The Recruitment Unit has set up a phone bank in Long Island City to answer questions and provide additional information to candidates. The Department will also offer free tutorials in all five boroughs for the written exam.  Physical training programs will be offered through a continued partnership with New York Sports Club.  Free access to physical training facilities at the Fire Academy on Randall’s Island also will be available.

The Department of Citywide Administrative Services offers the firefighter exam once every four years. This year, the pool of candidates is expected to broaden with changes in the educational requirements allowing individuals with 15 college credits, full-time U.S. military service with an honorable discharge, or at least six months of full-time, satisfactory work experience the opportunity to take the exam. The open filing period will be from August 7 to October 13.  A written exam will be held in January 2007 with a physical exam to follow. Often times, it may take up to one to three years before a candidate is called to join the Department. In an effort to better prepare incoming recruits, the Fire Department will lengthen the 13-week training period at the Academy.

Last year, the City and the FDNY combined to provide an unprecedented $3.2 million in annual funding to expand the Recruitment and Diversity Unit. The FDNY Recruitment and Diversity Unit employs 13 full-time staff and 37 uniform personnel detailed to the unit. The Department also utilizes an additional 276 firefighters and Emergency Medical Service personnel who work overtime to staff recruitment events across the City. In years past, recruitment efforts were only focused during the open filing period every four years. This additional funding provides for year-round recruitment efforts to attract and retain potential firefighter candidates in between filing periods.

Compared to the previous decade, the Fire Department has tripled its rate of minority hires from 5% to 15%.  In 2005 and 2006 alone, that figure increased to nearly 20% of all Probationary Firefighter classes.  Most recently, the last class to graduate from the Fire Academy in July was more than 21% minority, with 14% Hispanic, 5% African-American, 2% Asian and one Probationary Firefighter from a Native American background.

The expansion of the Recruitment Unit has also allowed the Department to send out teams of firefighters to more than 1,500 community events since January 2006. The Fire Commissioner and Chief of Department also engage in recruitment activities, speaking at churches and community groups throughout the year. FDNY recruitment teams participate in career fairs, speak at neighborhood groups and clubs, local colleges and other cultural events throughout the five boroughs. The unit has averaged roughly 50 events per week and to date have compiled more than 33,000 names of interested individuals. Of this group, 80% of the applicants are minorities and almost 25% are women.

The Arnell Group, working alongside members of the Department, created the new recruitment campaign based in large part on recommendations from the Columbia University School of International and Public Affairs FDNY Diversity Study. The study, conducted from 2003 to 2004 at the request of the Department, found that the public became more receptive to applying to become a firefighter after learning basic information about salaries, benefits and flexible schedules.  The Arnell Group captured this information with the theme of the campaign, “The Best Job in the World Has the Best Benefits in the World.” All services through the Arnell Group for the creation, production and placement of the advertising campaign were provided pro bono. The first FDNY recruitment campaign in 2002, “Heroes Wanted,” was also created free-of-charge by the Arnell Group.

Interested applicants should call 311 or (718) 999-FDNY to get information on how to register for the Firefighter exam’s open filing.  Information is also available on the web at


Stu Loeser   (212) 788-2958

Francis X. Gribbon   (Fire Department)
(718) 999-2056

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