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FDNY rejects 4x-deployed Navy SEAL because he’s ‘too old’

Special Operations Chief Shaun Donovan. (Shaun Donovan/Facebook)
April 29, 2019

The Fire Department of the city of New York (FDNY) has rejected a Navy SEAL-turned firefighter recruit for being too old – by seven months.

After 14 years in the Navy and four deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan, Special Operations Chief Shaun Donovan doesn’t quality to be an FDNY firefighter because he missed the age cutoff by six months and 25 days, the New York Post reported Saturday.

In advance of his 2020 retirement from the Navy, he applied in Sept. 2018, requesting permission for testing date accommodations, and was approved to proceed with the process, even with his date of birth included in the communications.

Stationed at Naval Special Warfare (NSW) Basic Training Command, Donovan spent $1,331 out of pocket just in plane tickets to fly to New York City for testing.

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On Oct. 25, 2018, he took the written firefighter exam and scored in the highest 1 percent of all 43,900 applicants. On Jan. 1, he took an eight-part physical test and passed it, too.

“I always had this draw to the city, this connection, even though I never lived there,” he said. “When 9/11 happened, I knew I had to do something about it.”

Donovan, who was born on Sept. 11 in 1981, enlisted in the Navy just four years after the attacks.

“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.

Despite spending months on the application process, Donovan wasn’t told of the age limit until recently.

In February, he received word from a FDNY background investigator who said Donovan didn’t qualify because he was over the maximum eligible age.

Candidates were required to be under age 29 before the application period began April 5, 2017. Exceptions are made for military service members, adding in six additional years for them.

Donovan would’ve been eligible if he was 35 years old, however, he was just six months over that.

“It was a letdown,” he said. “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 FDNY is remaining firm, however, saying they can’t provide an exception.

“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,” said Department of Citywide Administrative Services spokeswoman Jacqueline Gold.

Donovan has appealed the decision with the city’s Civil Service Commission, and plans to sue if the appeal is rejected.