Group of New Haven firefighters suing city over lottery system to pick newest crew members

New Haven

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — Some New Haven firefighters are taking on the city. They just filed a lawsuit saying it’s unfair to have a lottery system pick the next round of new firefighters.

Until this lawsuit was filed on Wednesday, the city planned to have a lotto to pick the newest group of firefighters complete with a rolling drum and numbered ping-pong balls.

A group called the Firebird Society of New Haven filed a lawsuit saying this is not a fair way to go. Of the prospective firefighters, 99 scored 100 percent on the civil-service test and there are only about 20 slots available.

Lt. Samod Rankins – the man who filed the suit – says a better system would include agility tests, background checks, and interviews to select the best people for the job.

Lt. Rankins said, “These residents deserve a fair opportunity. If you don’t do right by these residents, we’re going to hold you accountable. I don’t care who it is; if you don’t do right by our community, we don’t do right by you.”

“As far as playing the lotto with the future generations of New Haven residents, I think it’s a travesty,” said the Exec. VP International Assoc. of Black Professional Firefighters Gary Tinney.

The city sent a statement it on the issue. It reads, in part:

Wednesday afternoon the City of New Haven was served with a lawsuit filed on behalf of a number of individuals challenging the validity of the lottery selection process planned for making conditional offers for the position of Entry-Level Firefighters from the City Eligibility List 20-01E.  

The power to select and hire firefighters from lists certified by the Civil Service Board rests with the Fire Commission. The current list is unique because there are 99 candidates tied for Rank One, first place, but not 99 positions available.

The Fire Commission has decided that a lottery system would be the fairest way to select candidates for conditional offers. However, the Fire Commission postponed its Lottery Selection Process planned for Wednesday night’s meeting to allow for review of the claims made in the lawsuit. City officials are currently reviewing the lawsuit and have no further comment.

We will bring you their decision when it is announced.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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