The FDNY’s latest graduating class of 310 probationary firefighters had the lowest drop-out rate in years, but some question whether the training was watered down.
The class started with 324 and lost only 14 due to resignations, failure or injuries — a 4 percent drop-out rate, sources said. The usual dropout is 10 percent or more.
Insiders cite a shake-up at the FDNY training academy with brass pushing for greater numbers of minority and female probies to pass. The city is under a court order to boost minority hiring.
“Everybody graduates,” one described the mandate.
Another source familiar with FDNY training believes the overall regimen, which includes academics, individual firefighter tasks, and an obstacle course with multiple challenges, has eased.
“The current administration has put people in place who have relaxed the instruction intensity. If there’s a focus on just passing instead of trying to excel, you reduce the risk of injuries that result in fewer graduating,” he said.
“I feel we’re sending out some firefighters who are not as competent as they should be,” he added. “We need to train firefighters for what to expect on the worst possible day — like having to rescue three kids trapped in a fire.”
‘We’re sending out some firefighters who are not as competent.’- an FDNY source
Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro said the new crop of probies “represents the growing diversity of the department with 40 percent of graduates identifying as people of color – 17 percent as black, 20 percent as Hispanic and 3 percent as Asian.”
In addition, three graduates are women, bringing the total number of female firefighters to 52 – the highest in FDNY history, but still only about 0.5 percent of the 10,500-member force.
One of the women is Wendy Tapia, 34, who The Post reported was allowed to conditionally graduate from the Fire Academy in May 2013, even though she had failed to run a required 1.5 miles in 12 minutes or less. Supporters said suffered stress fractures because she was “overtrained.”
The tenacious Tapia rejoined the FDNY academy in December 2015 with fellow emergency medical technicians.
Under new rules, probies who fail the run can demonstrate aerobic capacity on Stairmaster machines, which experts say shows if candidates can climb stairs with heavy equipment.
FDNY spokesman Frank Gribbon dismissed the critics.
“These pathetic and disgraceful complaints are not just sour grapes – they are a dishonest and outrageous portrayal of an exceptional program that trained and developed one of the hardest-working and successful classes of firefighters in Department history, including 49 veterans and 4 members whose fathers died in service to the city.”