A Navy SEAL who has fought for his country now has an even tougher fight on his hands to join the New York City Fire Department.
No matter how much he wants to serve the people of New York City, Special Operations Chief Shaun Donovan has been ruled too old to become an FDNY recruit when his current military hitch ends in 2020, the New York Post reported.
Donovan, now 37, is appealing that decision to the city’s Civil Service Commission, with a lawsuit possible if the commission rules against him.
Donovan was born on Sept. 11, 1981, and inspired by the events of his 20th birthday to serve his country. He enlisted in 2005, and has served with distinction during four tours in Iraq and Afghanistan.
With civilian life beckoning, the Tucson, Arizona, man wanted to serve the people of New York City, the place that was his parents’ home town.
“I always had this draw to the city, this connection, even though I never lived there,” he told the Post. “When 9/11 happened, I knew I had to do something about it.”
Donovan, who wears a World Trade Center tattoo, said his feelings for New York City are more than skin deep.
“I believe in the city, I believe in its values and its people. I want to do my part to keep it safe,” he said.
Donovan noted that throughout the lengthy application process, his age never came up as an issue.
On Oct. 25, he scored in the top 1 percent of 43,900 candidates who took the FDNY written exam, and then on Jan. 1 passed the Candidate Physical Ability Test, the Post reported.
But on Feb. 1, he learned his age disqualified him. Under FDNY rules, a military service veteran would have had to have been no older than 35 as of April 5, 2017, to qualify. As of that date, Donovan was 35 years, six months and 25 days old, which meant the city rejected him, according to the Post.
“It was a letdown,” he told the newspaper. “I was allowed to apply and take the test. At no point was I made aware I was outside any age limit. It just seemed everything was lined up and ready to go.”
The city said the rules are the rules.
“It is always painful for the city to have to reject a job candidate, especially one who is serving to protect our country. However, the rules cannot be changed for one person,” city spokeswoman Jacqueline Gold told the Post.
A spokesman for Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro, who rejected Donovan’s first appeal, said the age rule is “not subject to interpretation.”
In its reporting, the Post said individuals have been hired when they were past the age of eligibility if they had been ruled victims of discrimination.
Truth and Accuracy
We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.