The New York Fire Department rejected a Navy SEAL for being too old. Now other fire departments are inviting him to apply

A 37-year-old US Navy SEAL who's served four combat tours was rejected by the New York City Fire Department for being too old. Now other fire departments across the country have reached out to let him know he's welcome elsewhere.

Posted: May 14, 2019 11:10 AM
Updated: May 14, 2019 11:10 AM

A 37-year-old US Navy SEAL who's served four combat tours was rejected by the New York City Fire Department for being too old. Now other fire departments across the country have reached out to let him know he's welcome elsewhere.

Shaun Donovan, an active Special Operations Chief for the Navy SEALs scored in the top 1% of applicants for the FDNY, according to his attorney Kevin Carroll. He also passed the physical exam. But despite flying to New York twice for the recruiting process since 2017, the FDNY rejected him for being about six months older than the maximum age requirement.

Donovan is still currently serving on active duty in California, but hoped to make the move to New York when he's eligible to retire from the Navy in 2020.

Though he grew up in Tucson, Arizona, his family was originally from Staten Island and always spoke of it, causing a big part of his desire to fight fires in New York, according to his attorney.

Donovan provided his birth date, September 11, 1981, to FDNY and city administrative personnel multiple times before and after he'd taken the tests, Carroll told CNN.

The Department of Citywide Administrative Services also allowed him to take a makeup exam in the fall of 2018, months after the initially scheduled test, because he'd been on active duty.

But the DCAS does not vet exam applicants for age, DCAS spokeswoman Jacqueline Gold told CNN.

In February of this year, Donovan received a letter from the department rejecting his application, citing the age requirement. Though he appealed with the FDNY, the Fire Department is not authorized to waive this requirement for anyone, FDNY spokesman Frank Gribbon told CNN in a statement.

Now Donovan has appealed the FDNY decision to the city's Civil Service Commission, and expects a decision by the end of July. But if that doesn't end in his favor, he's prepared to file a civil lawsuit in federal court, Carroll told CNN.

The FDNY, under state and city regulations, cannot accept an applicant who's older than 29, except when they have a military background. The policy allows an exception for military veterans, who can deduct up to six years off their current age to meet that age requirement of 29 depending on how long they served.

Donovan is one of 22 military veterans who took the recent firefighter written exam but were disqualified due to age ineligibility, Gribbon told CNN.

"Several hundred veterans are believed to have taken the test and are eligible for appointment when we reach their list number. In fact, this morning at our training academy, we swore in 327 new probationary firefighters -- 126 of whom are military veterans," Gribbon said.

Multiple fire departments are now interested

Having seen media coverage about Donovan's situation, the Denver Fire Department's head recruiter contacted Donovan through his attorney, to encourage him to consider Denver Fire for a post-military career.

"We're always looking for a few good men and women," Denver Fire Department's head recruiter Captain Greg Pixley told CNN.

"We'll respect what you've gone through, who you are and your age." Pixley told CNN. "I basically just wanted to let him know, that coming out of the military the fire service would be an easy transition and a great career."

Pixley served in the US Air Force.

"I have a little bias toward my veteran sisters and brothers," he said when asked what prompted him to reach out to Donovan.

Denver Fire requires a GED and a minimum age of 21 years old, but has no age cap. Firefighters have continued with DFD into their 60s, according to Pixley.

Similarly, the San Francisco Fire Department requires firefighters to be at least 20 years old and does not have an age cap, but requires EMT certification and the passage of written and physical tests.

SFFD spokesman, Lt. Jonathan Baxter passed along an invitation to Donovan to consider joining their team in San Francisco.

Baxter called the San Francisco Fire Department one of the most diverse in the country, and says they welcome all applicants with a military background.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 324537

Reported Deaths: 5594
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion44186858
Lake28094462
Allen18660301
Elkhart17663230
St. Joseph17256234
Hamilton13612170
Vanderburgh10028121
Tippecanoe896729
Porter855386
Johnson6718169
Hendricks6412158
Vigo625889
Monroe550450
Clark531078
Madison5239122
Delaware5075103
LaPorte481196
Kosciusko475941
Howard364177
Bartholomew335365
Warrick335372
Floyd329478
Wayne325678
Marshall311846
Cass303931
Grant287150
Hancock272957
Noble264946
Henry256437
Boone255054
Dubois245631
Dearborn228231
Jackson226334
Morgan221243
Gibson194926
Knox193021
Shelby192656
Clinton185421
DeKalb183932
Lawrence183849
Wabash172821
Adams172422
Miami170815
Daviess163145
Fayette153734
Steuben153414
Jasper151713
Montgomery149327
Harrison147624
LaGrange146131
Ripley145815
Whitley142314
Huntington133510
Decatur132543
Putnam131128
White131022
Wells130130
Clay130023
Randolph128121
Posey125816
Jefferson124116
Scott114520
Greene106053
Sullivan102716
Jay101913
Starke95022
Jennings90414
Spencer8908
Fulton87519
Perry85121
Fountain8228
Washington8127
Franklin73427
Carroll71913
Orange70028
Vermillion6607
Owen6468
Tipton60327
Parke6026
Newton57812
Rush5708
Blackford56612
Pike52719
Pulaski41815
Martin3705
Benton3643
Brown3574
Crawford3081
Union2782
Switzerland2655
Warren2562
Ohio2387
Unassigned0266

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 399808

Reported Deaths: 6346
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin52652672
Cuyahoga39132746
Hamilton31491372
Montgomery21355242
Butler15768149
Lucas15301420
Summit14667330
Stark9780209
Warren878777
Mahoning7985301
Lake752566
Lorain7149106
Clermont622953
Delaware597337
Licking589977
Trumbull5867148
Fairfield576464
Greene559568
Clark5438129
Allen518389
Medina496557
Marion489359
Wood4861108
Miami456268
Pickaway410548
Portage385574
Columbiana376599
Tuscarawas360567
Richland349639
Wayne340894
Mercer299248
Muskingum262510
Hancock257240
Ross251259
Darke246160
Auglaize243935
Erie240868
Ashtabula240454
Putnam234549
Geauga227051
Union20838
Scioto204316
Lawrence201139
Shelby199917
Athens19984
Seneca192919
Belmont176729
Madison172019
Sandusky166429
Huron163022
Preble162521
Defiance149923
Holmes146939
Knox139719
Logan139018
Jefferson138113
Fulton135826
Crawford134417
Washington133427
Ottawa128830
Ashland117328
Williams11479
Clinton113115
Highland108118
Brown10755
Hardin107019
Henry105423
Champaign10535
Jackson102012
Van Wert99918
Fayette97317
Guernsey96814
Morrow9682
Coshocton91015
Perry86613
Adams83813
Gallia81615
Pike7921
Wyandot76118
Paulding70012
Hocking68516
Noble65124
Carroll53210
Meigs41712
Monroe34921
Morgan2925
Harrison2433
Vinton2326
Unassigned00
Fort Wayne
Clear
37° wxIcon
Hi: 45° Lo: 31°
Feels Like: 32°
Angola
Clear
36° wxIcon
Hi: 45° Lo: 31°
Feels Like: 29°
Huntington
Clear
37° wxIcon
Hi: 46° Lo: 30°
Feels Like: 33°
Decatur
Clear
36° wxIcon
Hi: 46° Lo: 31°
Feels Like: 32°
Van Wert
Clear
36° wxIcon
Hi: 47° Lo: 30°
Feels Like: 32°
Warm Sunday
WFFT Radar
WFFT Temperatures
WFFT National

Community Events