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 8:57 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: 306538

Reported Deaths: 5435
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion41953849
Lake26872453
Allen17621295
Elkhart16905219
St. Joseph16524223
Hamilton12696167
Vanderburgh9552115
Tippecanoe844927
Porter813785
Johnson6231165
Vigo597979
Hendricks5944156
Monroe530349
Clark504077
Madison4858121
Delaware4820103
LaPorte457194
Kosciusko455739
Howard334975
Warrick319572
Floyd311477
Bartholomew308462
Wayne301367
Cass295831
Marshall293744
Grant262949
Noble249846
Hancock246551
Boone240254
Henry240237
Dubois234631
Dearborn215730
Jackson212633
Morgan204443
Gibson181725
Knox181419
Shelby178254
Clinton177821
Lawrence174047
DeKalb172829
Adams166422
Wabash158020
Miami157814
Daviess154643
Fayette147733
Steuben143513
Jasper142111
Harrison141824
LaGrange140129
Montgomery139027
Whitley133412
Ripley128114
Decatur124643
Huntington123510
Putnam123027
Randolph120719
Wells120428
White120321
Clay119822
Posey119616
Jefferson116216
Scott103219
Greene101353
Jay96413
Starke90621
Sullivan88916
Fulton83518
Jennings83214
Spencer8198
Perry81521
Fountain7738
Washington7417
Franklin68626
Carroll67913
Orange66628
Vermillion5993
Owen5987
Parke5606
Newton55312
Tipton55226
Rush5317
Blackford51912
Pike50318
Pulaski37710
Martin3515
Benton3362
Brown3353
Crawford2881
Union2671
Switzerland2555
Warren2382
Ohio2307
Unassigned0266

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 371840

Reported Deaths: 6100
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin50231667
Cuyahoga36047741
Hamilton29931372
Montgomery20065228
Butler14769146
Lucas14317414
Summit13388316
Stark8792197
Warren819175
Mahoning7276299
Lake682666
Lorain643499
Clermont577248
Delaware556436
Licking549276
Fairfield538464
Trumbull5305147
Greene522364
Clark511464
Allen465485
Marion465251
Wood4491107
Medina447756
Miami425867
Pickaway399348
Columbiana347297
Portage344872
Tuscarawas328658
Wayne318793
Richland316638
Mercer289945
Hancock241337
Ross240759
Muskingum240210
Auglaize231031
Putnam224749
Erie224266
Darke223559
Ashtabula223253
Geauga203351
Scioto195915
Union19118
Shelby190615
Lawrence189438
Athens18864
Seneca180018
Belmont164929
Madison158918
Sandusky154229
Preble152621
Huron152318
Defiance139522
Holmes139139
Logan127816
Knox126318
Fulton124525
Washington121927
Crawford121516
Ottawa121130
Clinton106714
Williams10579
Ashland105222
Highland101317
Jefferson10124
Henry100023
Brown9925
Champaign9475
Jackson93112
Hardin91019
Fayette90317
Van Wert8976
Morrow8882
Guernsey83914
Coshocton82613
Perry78712
Adams78313
Pike7451
Gallia73513
Wyandot71216
Paulding64611
Hocking62616
Noble60223
Carroll45710
Meigs39012
Monroe31821
Morgan2575
Vinton2195
Harrison2023
Unassigned00
Fort Wayne
Overcast
54° wxIcon
Hi: 52° Lo: 44°
Feels Like: 54°
Angola
50° wxIcon
Hi: 48° Lo: 42°
Feels Like: 50°
Huntington
Overcast
53° wxIcon
Hi: 54° Lo: 44°
Feels Like: 53°
Decatur
Overcast
54° wxIcon
Hi: 53° Lo: 45°
Feels Like: 54°
Van Wert
Overcast
54° wxIcon
Hi: 53° Lo: 45°
Feels Like: 54°
Cloudy Thanksgiving
WFFT Radar
WFFT Temperatures
WFFT National

Community Events