A Navy SEAL who was declared ‘too old’ to join the Fire Department of New York City (FDNY) has won his battle to become a firefighter.
Special Operations Chief Shaun Donovan, who has roots in Staten Island, was told in 2017 that he was above the 35-year-old age limit to become a firefighter.
Donovan was 35 when he applied, but was six months and 25 days too old to be under consideration, reported the New York Post.
But a bill had just passed through New York State legislature that increases the age limit and allows the decorated veteran to achieve his dream.
Navy SEAL Special Operations Chief Shaun Donovan, 37 (pictured), applied to join the FDNY in 2015 at age 35
Donovan (pictured at One World Trade Center on his birthday in September 2017) passed the written and physical exams, but was told he was over the age requirement by six months and 25 days
Under current law, military members can be six years older than the FDNY age limit of 29.
But the Navy SEAL, who served four tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, had missed the cutoff by almost seven months.
The FDNY has one of the strictest age caps in the nation. Boston’s fire department is a close second with an age limit of 32.
‘It was a letdown,’ Donovan, whose military service ends in 2020, told the New York Post in April.
‘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.’
What made it even more discouraging for Donovan was that he scored in the top one percent on the written exam, and passed the physical exam with ease.
‘There is usually a bad guy in a story, but there are no bad guys here,’ Donovan’s attorney, Kevin Carroll, who was working the case pro-bono, told The Wall Street Journal.
On Thursday, the New York State Senate unanimously passed a bill that allows a veteran seven years, once he or she reaches age 29, to join the FDNY.
‘There’s a special place in my heart for the FDNY. When you have that as your motivation, you want to do right by those people,’ state Senator Andrew Gounardes (D-Brooklyn), who co-sponsored the bill, told the Post.
‘He wants to continue to give back, he already served our country and he wants to keep serving. Why should we ever tell someone now you can’t serve?’
Previously, military members have six-year window to apply to the FDNY. But, on Thursday, lawmakers in New York passed a bill unanimously on Thursday that extended the window to seven years. Pictured: Firefighters train at the Fire Department of New York training academy, May 2014
The bill now heads to Governor Andrew Cuomo, who is expected to sign it into law.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio wrote in a statement that he was pleased at the bill’s passing.
‘If you’re a veteran who has served this country proudly, your age shouldn’t be a barrier to continue serving our fellow New Yorkers,’ he said.
Donovan became a Navy SEAL in 2005 and garnered several medals of valor during his service.
Prior to the bill being passed, Donovan had captured the interest of fire departments in other cities such as Denver and San Francisco.
‘Tell him to apply to our fire department,’ San Francisco Fire Department spokesman Jonathan Baxter told the Post. ‘We’ve had individuals in their 50s go through our fire academy, which is very extensive and difficult, both physically and mentally.