Posted on May 16, 2011

Court: Chicago Must Hire 111 Black Firefighters

Don Babwin, San Francisco Chronicle, May 13, 2011

A federal appeals court ruled on Friday that the Chicago Fire Department must hire 111 African Americans who passed a firefighters entrance exam 16 years ago and pay millions of dollars to thousands more who took and passed the same test.


An attorney for the black firefighter candidates said that the 111 jobs would be filled from the applicants who passed the 1995 test and their pensions would be adjusted as if they’d been firefighters since 1995. And, said Joshua Karsh, 6,000 others who also passed the test will divide “tens of millions of dollars” that would have been paid 111 firefighters from 1995 until today.


Hoyle said that the city was still calculating the damages as result of dividing the back pay of 111 firefighters among the 6,000 applicants, but that officials estimate the payout will be about $30 million.

The ruling stems from a test given in 1995 that was intended to measure an aptitude for firefighting. After the test, anyone who scored 64 or below was deemed not qualified, but officials told those who scored above that number that while they passed, they would randomly hire the top 1,800 who scored 89 or better.

Because only 11 percent of the African Americans scored 89 or better, the overwhelming number of applicants hired from that test were white.

Karsh said the test was discriminatory because there was no evidence that the applicant who scored 89 or better would be any better firefighter than another who scored a 64, and in fact in 2005 a federal judge said the test discriminated against black candidates. In her ruling the judge said the city knew the cutoff point was meaningless and would disproportionately exclude blacks from the pool of candidates most likely to be hired.


32 responses to “Court: Chicago Must Hire 111 Black Firefighters”

  1. Anonymous says:

    I wonder what would have happened if the city simply told the applicants that the 89 was the passing mark, and anyone below that had failed the test and would be deemed unsuitable for the job. Especially since so many (1800 people) scored over 89.

    I guess the court would have thrown the test out anyway no matter what the result, in their quest to make sure a certain arbitrary minimum percentage of firefighters be black.

    I agree with the AmRen subtitle: what will this court decision cost the people of Chicago. If your house or business is on fire, or someone you love needs to be rescued from a blaze, don’t you want the best possible people doing the job?

  2. Tom from UK says:

    It’s stories like this that must rankle even the most liberal whites- there, set out before them, is incontrovertible proof of what publications such as this one have been pointing out for years.

  3. john says:

    I can’t imagine an employment test that didn’t in some meaningful way measure an applicant’s ability to perform in the relevant occupation.

    And as a broad and perfectly valid generalization, people of greater intelligence, all other factors being equal, will perform more effectively than those of lesser intelligence.

    Firefighters have to be able to think on their feet, often under extreme and often life-threatening pressure. Nobody but an idiot would select any but the best-conditioned, strongest, and smartest among the applicants.

  4. Old White Jim says:

    I don’t think this is what Hubert H. Humphrey had in mind. I don’t think he would have cursed the Blackest communities with the least qualified firefighters. This is as stupid as government gets.

  5. Jeddermann. says:

    Some of these prospective hires are rather elderly now to begin a career as a fire fighter, even in the mid-forties or so. Sixteen years now this thing has been in the courts? That is a long time too.

    “their pensions would be adjusted as if they’d been firefighters since 1995”

    Some of these guys will be able to claim a pension after working only four years or so on the job? Never heard of such a thing.

    Chicago has been at this sort of thing with the cops and fire fighters for OVER forty years now and nothing is settled. Why even give tests then? Just throw the tests out and find another way? What is that?

  6. William Hendershot says:

    I convinced Cleveland had people die from this type of action, as the subtitle asks. Several years ago nine people were killed in a house fire off of Superior Ave. The victims were all black, and there was a fire station very close, on superior Ave. Early news reports stated that the first crews arrived from the Superior station and refused to enter the house, as it was already well aflame. Crews later arrived from white firehouses entered, but it was too late. The fire was arson.

    Newscasts even had the president of the Firefighters union stating that all his members were brave, etc,and that there was nothing to these reports. This line of reporting was suddenly dropped, and the newscasts focued on the arson angle. This was the largest loss of life by fire in years in Cleveland.

  7. Tom in Illinois says:

    Funny how this comes on the day Rahm Emmanuel is sworn in. And MOST of all, I wonder what COLOR the court is!?

  8. Istvan says:

    I don’t realy care what happens to black residents when black firemen are hired. I really do not. They are none of our concern. I am not really too worried about white residents, most, in a dangerous situation, have the good sense to evacuate. I am concerned about the danger faced by white firemen having to work side-by-side with black nincompoops

  9. recidivism says:

    We crave the day that White firefighters come together as community and sign a pledge to never put out a fire when it is burning down the house of any judge or politician or activist who advocates for more black firefighters.

    Let the White firefighting community just sit back and let it burn down to the ground, then say, “Well, we were here waiting for the black brigade to come and tell us what to do next, but they never showed up on time.”

    Short of that, any White who wants to be a firefighter should immediately sue for racial discrimination and make millions!

  10. content_pessimist says:

    Have you heard about the “New Haven 20” Fire Department struggle with this same issue?. The link below explains the whole issue from beginning to end and is a good read.

    The test was outsourced to an independent company specifically to eliminate discrimination. They made more questions to be oral to accommodate (certain people) and they still didn’t pass. The NHFD won in the end but had to take it to SCOTUS.

  11. Sensitivity- to the White Plight Only! says:

    We’ll know we’ve made progress at the fundamental transformation of The United States of America when the all White synagogues and majority White Episcopal churches in Chicago come together and sign a pledge that states they will only accept firefighting services from fire stations that have a certain and desirable percentage of valuable and enriching African American firefighters, and that the fire chief must represent transformative diversity leadership.

    “We refuse to let you put our our fire unless you intentionally reflect the wonderful color of the Chicago community at large. If you look too White, then please just stay away from our burning temple or church.”

    In fact, let’s just shame them as racists for not having yet come out with their demand for institutional social change. We should demand of them that they personally revoke their own tax exempt status until they sign the “let us burn down if you firefighters are horrifyingly and overwhelmingly White- we don’t want no racist Tea Party firefighters putting out fires around here” pledge.

  12. Anonymous says:

    Chicago’s ‘Machine’ grinds out more corrupt grist.

    CFD: Make sure they are all from the oldest* cadre of applicants and make sure they all work together and make sure they all work in the blackest, poorest, part of town.

    Then someone (assuming they still have honest statistics or performance monitoring of -some- kind in the Big Windy) make double and triple copies of their semi-annual operational readiness reviews of response times and number of casualties saved/lost.

    Post them on a whistleblower site, anonymously.

    For white residents, the instructions are simpler: Get. Out.

    Chicago hasn’t been a white-friendly town in decades. You know this. Take a hit on your house sale, double up like Mexicans with a neighbor, friend or relative you trust to afford the new home in a better place. But leave. If you don’t, if you put job security or real estate value ahead of your safety, it will be your fault you are where you are when more than the fire department heads south.

    And I read about that Cleveland fire. The only one to even try to get out was the mother. All her kids (4 of them) died in their sleep. Incapacitation from a rapidly spread accelerant fire that smoked the upstairs bedrooms before they knew to wake up (functional fire alarms). At least two gallons of gasoline in a 99 year old tinderbox.

    7+2, slaughtered for nothing.

    And they likely knew their killer.

    *I say oldest because this is one of those cases where the quicker they are out of the system, the sooner this becomes a potential fiscal (firehouses closed = longer response time) rather than a certain mortal tragedy.

  13. Seneca the Younger says:

    Ask any racially aware white cop, firefighter, soldier, etc. about this. It is a well known thing that standardized tests are only for whites, specifically men. If a white man passes the exam they have a shot at the job, ideally. If a minority passes the exam, they are GUARANTEED the job. Even blacks know they don’t have to pass the exam. And some higher-up blacks will deliberately put all the dumb blacks in one testing session so they can cry discrimination when there is a 90+% failure rate in one class.

  14. WASP says:

    1. I would love to see a story that says: “NBA must hire more players”

    2. Many cities require that you complete a fire science degree or academy at a community college before even applying. Almost NO blacks would be hired if all cities had that requirement. Same holds true with police.

  15. Bud says:

    Fighting fires doesn’t take all that much brain power, but you have to wonder if this will be applied to EMTs.

  16. Anonymous says:

    If you are white and choose to live in Chicago you are either a member of the “mafia” or a complete idiot.

  17. Anonymous says:

    Great. Let’s choose our doctors and engineers the same way.

    What folly occurs as an empire collapses.

  18. Bernie says:

    “It’s stories like this that must rankle even the most liberal whites”

    Not so sure. I was in college in the early 1990s and one of my leftist professors was going on about how it was his strategy (he was white but involved in the NAACP)to hit cities with huge lawsuits for police brutality. He said the strategy was to make white residents so mad about increased taxes that they would demand an end to police brutality against blacks.

    The fact that there is no police brutality against blacks never entered his mind. For him, whenever a black criminal claimed police brutality it was a 100% fact.

    I imagine there are many white liberals who truly think that the city of Chicago was out to discriminate against blacks and rigged the test to make them look bad.

    The fact is, we will always be blamed for black failure.

  19. GetBackJack says:

    This is another case of wealth distribution and nothing more. Yes, folks, just keep voting in the same two parties and then expect this to stop!

  20. Schwartzie Baby Daddy- pure or mixed? says:

    We applaud the synagogues and churches that will now refuse service from “far too White” fire departments.

    “Due to the overwhelming and offensively persistent White privilege on display in the fire department, which is always a symbol of institutional bias and systemic racism, as evidenced by how few valuable and enriching African American firemen grace the fire fighting ranks with their talent and skills, we come together in solidarity and demand that the fire department immediately cease hiring any additional White privilege firemen. Until the number of African American heroes dramatically increases, we refuse to allow White privilege firemen on our premises, under any circumstances, even if our building is on fire.”

  21. Anonymous says:

    “Karsh said the test was discriminatory because there was no evidence that the applicant who scored 89 or better would be any better firefighter than another who scored a 64, and in fact in 2005 a federal judge said the test discriminated against black candidates. In her ruling the judge said the city knew the cutoff point was meaningless and would disproportionately exclude blacks from the pool of candidates most likely to be hired.”

    If the tests are meaningless, why don’t they just give out the jobs using a raffle or lottery system. They could do the same with doctors and nurses, and civil engineers, and scientists.

  22. Prophetic Goddess says:

    We are soon approaching the time when conservative Whites will come together and use the successful tactics of the left. The roadmap to success has be unfolded before our eyes, and now WE ARE THE VICTIMS, so we will use the victim tactic. Nothing is hidden- it’s all there for us to see, co-opt and use.

    This is what the White firemen in Chicago should do: follow the Fox-Piven rule, and don’t let our enemies benefit from our jobs:


    Before the unemployed or any other disadvantaged group “can mobilize for collective action,” added Piven, “they have to develop a proud and angry identity and a set of claims that go with that identity. They have to go from being hurt and ashamed to being angry and indignant … [at] the bureaucrats or the politicians who are in fact responsible.”

    end snip

    White Firemen Unite! Are you mad enough yet? What will it take? Can you name who is responsible? Do you know where they live? Would you save their house from fire?

  23. Californian says:

    A couple of questions here:

    If as claimed, these tests do not measure firefighting ability, then what kind of test would? What specifically was wrong with these tests?

    If race-is-just-a-construct, then how could such tests discriminate against blacks? Is it being claimed that blacks have inherently different aptitudes than Whites?

    It would be interesting to do a followup here. See how many of these firefighter candidates perform in training, and then how they perform on the job.

  24. Anonymous says:

    Firefighting is a dangerous occupation. Firemen get burned, seriously injured, and sometimes killed?

    Shouldn’t the noble African Americans be protected from such dangers. Is seems more fitting with our shared values and accepted definition of social progress that any African American who wants to be a fireman should instead automatically be given a job as an “distinguished, esteemed, renowned and tenured professor of Diaspora Studies and Diversity Implementation.”

    Afro firemen won’t help bring about much needed and enriching transformative diversity leadership, but more tenured, high paid afro college professor will.

  25. jdavis says:

    The barbarians are within the gates…of course they are dumbed down barbarians regardless of ethnicity.

    Intellectually the young of our society can’t hold a candle to people 60 and over. Start a game show, are you smarter than a ____________ ? pick by random not by scholastic rankings.

    Overall the young ones have little understanding apart from what mtv or their dumbed down schools teach, no real knowledge. Of course they will be easier to control when the real leaders show up.

    The ageless argument, if they aren’t less qualified why do we have affirmative action, and a plethora of programs to make them equal?

  26. chuck says:

    Good luck getting that gang to respond to an emergency!! maybe they could extinguish(a big word for an african American) a bonfire for roasting hot-dogs but a house fire…keep the white guys on line for that job!!

  27. Anonymous says:

    I’m a white male. When, I was 24. I applied to various big city fire departments. I had a MASTERS degree in Fire Science. I also had experience working with a small fire brigade in a high hazard area. Physically, I was a power lifter and I studied martial arts. (I still do) At that time, I could bench press 355 lbs, squat 450, dead lift 450 lbs. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I honestly think I was qualifed to at least be considered for the job. When I applied, they did not ask for experience, physical ablitity, or credentials. They asked for age and race. THAT’S IT. After applying several times, I never heard anything from them. I know of minorities who did not have any education, credentials or specific talents, who were hired quickly. I’m sure I wasn’t the best applicant. I’m sure there were better applicants than me…but they weren’t hired either. Some of the minorities I mentioned are now high ranking officers. They were promoted at a young age, while older white men with more experience were never promoted. Some say that the U.S. is turning into South Africa and Zimbabwe. I disagree. It already has.

  28. Justin says:

    Is this a standardized test? If so it should be fair to both White and Black applicants. If these Blacks can’t pass it, well, whose fault is that?

    And honestly, with all due respect to the nation’s firefighters, how hard is it to pass a fireman’s exam? I mean c’mon it isn’t like trying to get an 800 on the GMAT. If Chicago is hiring firefighters without the intelligence or work ethic to study for this exam, well I feel sorry for the people of Chicago.

  29. GetBackJack says:

    Proof positive this country is being destroyed from the inside out.

  30. Anonymous says:



    If race-is-just-a-construct, then how could such tests discriminate against blacks? Is it being claimed that blacks have inherently different aptitudes than Whites?

    It would be interesting to do a followup here. See how many of these firefighter candidates perform in training, and then how they perform on the job.


    With all that supposed racial physical aptitude, blacks should do better in the up-and-down stairs with firehoses bit as endurance tests.

    I would assume that whites would do better in things like analysis of conditions (fire behind the door) and correct techniques to deal with different conditions.

    The margin being that a white can bulk up through training to be the man that carries 150lbs of casualty or a hoseline through a messy environment. A black who doesn’t have the intellectual aptitudes is going to have a hard time getting as much benefit from hard study.

    Those pumper trucks don’t simply take water from the hydrants, I’m betting they put out a HUGE amount of water at much higher pressures (to get reach on the streams) and relatively simple tasks like dividing pressure amounts between hose feeds (which may be automated now) could lead to serious trouble if a hose blows and there are men near it or you lose pressure at a critical moment in fighting a fire.

    Similarly, sending men into X door because the stream of water is putting so much pressure against an interior wall or weight on a floor joist could make those areas more risky. But knowing which door to go into is as much a factor of where you put the truck on drive up. And this is not something all blacks are long-horizon equipped to strategize.

    Nor is fighting fires all that the fired department does. There are different natural and man made disasters that require specific awareness of the environmental status and selection or modification of a conditional management techniques to match.

    Someone drops chemi/bio into a water system and you may have a -mass casualty- that requires very specific selection of responses to save the most of the least effected. This is not a time to be considering whether your friends in the hood are being ‘racially discriminated’ against.

    I would assume that a young black man who made it through college (i.e. a ‘talented twoth’, as with whites 16%) could handle the course work and study loads but what I think you are in fact seeing is a statistical gap in applicant qualities vs. actual or perceived job requirements.

    Blacks at X level of capability see this, rightfully, as an elite status achievement. Blacks at Y level (the step above) want something which provides different kinds of rewards and specifically those which bring better financial performance.

    It’s those Y/Z blacks you might want in an Fire Department and yet, given the hardship and the low pay and the risk, if they are ‘that smart’, they are all looking towards their own dream job in the finance or entertainment or other (115->IQ) upper echelon jobs with high rates of managerial elevation opportunities.

    What strikes me here is how a few open positions for advancement over a large working body are being fought over like a roadkill deer between two wolfpacks.

    There just isn’t enough to go around and nobody is willing to say what happens when you deprive a majority population of it’s _necessary_ job-fufillment satisfaction as an option to sustain not just it’s own, but the overall level of societal advancement that they have achieved.

    Nobody wants to go to Africa and take over a village because it’s _a village_.

    We are already seeing what this means when Jewish and Asian percentiles (25% from 3% of the population and 23% from 8%) are taking slots that poor but adequately intelligent white males could achieve in. The remaining 50% of the college slots are then divided up among hispanic, black and female wannabes, regardless of their actual SAT or other placement scores and the result is the breakdown of society which our Elites ‘resolve’ by sending industry and office and now high level R&D jobs overseas so that we are ALL reduced to ‘service economy’ positions.

    That’s where this really breaks down. There is simply not enough upper crust for all the races to make a decent living using their innate abilities. And it’s going to get a lot worse as the USD devalues more and more of our industrial and technology base is lost.

  31. Anonymous says:


    Don’t think too hard about it. How do terms such as “reverse-discrimination” or “unintentional-discrimination” make any sense? They don’t. Because blacks are unable to perform as well as whites on tests, the burden is on the defendant/employer to show that the test is necessary to screen potential employees. If the employer can’t prove this, the test is discriminatory. Bottom line, the Judges have decided that employers should be cajoled into hiring blacks no matter the cost; and our elected representatives are right on board with them in this endeavor.

  32. Anonymous says:

    I am a White woman who scored 96 out of 100 on a written civil service exam. I had 12 years applicable experience in a similiar job.

    I received a letter giving me my test scores and stating that because of “judicial constraints” giving preference to women and minorities I would not be interviewed and could not get the job.

    I called the test givers which happened to be an independent group, the same group that runs the SATs and other tests. I told them that I was a woman and got a near perfect score on the written tests so why didn’t I get the woman preference?

    I was told that in compliance with some Judicial order, all White women who scored over 85 on the written test had to be classified as “White male profile” and thus, as honorary White males could not be hired or even interviewed. White male profile basically meant the people who scored the highest, that is over 85.

    Our government and Judiciary will do anything, any insane thing including classifying women as White men to destroy us.