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'Most Diverse Class Ever' Of New FDNY Firefighters Sworn In

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Hundreds of new firefighters were sworn in Monday in what officials are calling the most diverse graduating class in the history of the FDNY.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Fire Commissioner Sal Cassano swore in 318 new probationary firefighters. The class has a record-breaking eight women and more than 66 percent of the class are minorities, officials said.

'Most Diverse Class Ever' Of New FDNY Firefighters Sworn In

"Today, we are appointing what is, by far, the most racially and ethnically diverse class ever to begin training as firefighters," said Bloomberg. "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."

"This new class of probationary firefighters is a testament to the outstanding work by the department to meet our longstanding goal of diversifying our ranks and better representing the city we serve," said Cassano.

Efforts to diversify the department came in response to a lawsuit charging discrimination in the FDNY's testing and hiring practices.

A judge ruled last year that the FDNY discriminated against minorities in its entrance exam. Some minorities who might have otherwise been hired weren't and others who were hired might have been hired sooner.

"This diversity has come despite the mayor and despite the fire commissioner," Paul Washington with the Vulcan Society, an association of African-American firefighters, told WCBS 880's Peter Haskell.

The new class is 27 percent African-American, 37 percent Hispanic and two percent Asian, officials said.

For the next 18 weeks, the new firefighters will attend a rigorous training program at the FDNY Fire Academy.

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