The next generation of New York City firefighters will be more diverse.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Fire Commissioner Sal Cassano on Monday welcomed the newest class of probationary firefighters, 66 percent of whom are minorities, representing the highest minority portion of any incoming FDNY Fire Academy group.
The recruits broke the record set by the May class, which had 42 percent minorities.
Bloomberg said the progress was beneficial for the department because the firefighters would better represent the people they protect.
"This is, by any measure, a historic day for this department and for our entire city -- and you are a true cross section of New York," he told the cadets at their swearing-in ceremony.
The class includes eight women, the most in a probationary class in 21 years.
Of the 318 cadets, 27 percent are black, 37 percent are Hispanic and 2 percent are Asian.
"This new class of probationary firefighters is a testament to the outstanding work by the department to meet our long-standing goal of diversifying our ranks and better representing the city we serve," Cassano said.
Minority groups have been very critical of the FDNY for not doing enough to make firehouses more diverse.
The Vulcan Society has sued the FDNY and the city over the issue, and the case is ongoing.
In the meantime, the city changed the fire department's entrance exam and made a recruitment push in minority neighborhoods.