- Associated Press - Saturday, October 25, 2014

CHICAGO (AP) - The Chicago Fire Department hired far more whites than African-Americans this year - raising concerns again that the same department that was ordered two years ago to pay millions of dollars to thousands of applicants who were not hired is not doing enough to become more diverse.

Out of 462 new firefighters and paramedics hired in 2013 as part of an effort to reduce overtime, just 33 - or 7 percent - are black, compared to 228 whites and 81 Hispanics, according to the Chicago Sun-Times (http://bitly.com/1wrLTD4 ). Fire department officials said they have made a concerted effort to encourage more minorities to apply and Fire Commissioner Jose Santiago said the results of that push will be seen in December when more than 23,000 applicants take the city’s first firefighters entrance examination. According to the department, blacks make up 22 percent of the applicant pool, with whites making up 44 percent.

But there is a long history of legal battles over hiring at the fire department in the nation’s third largest city. In 2011, a federal appeals court ordered the department to hire more than 100 African Americans who passed the entrance exam 16 years earlier and ordered the department to pay millions of dollars to nearly 6,000 African Americans who took and passed the same test.

That history coupled with the latest numbers added up to frustration among African-American aldermen.

“I have been in the City Council for seven years (and) these numbers look the same,” said Alderman Pat Dowell. “I don’t know how we’re going to achieve parity in the fire department.”

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Information from: Chicago Sun-Times, http://www.suntimes.com/index

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