New Haven hearth fee goes lottery route for jobs; lawyer will search injunction

NEW HAVEN — The Board of Fire Commissioners will move forward with a lottery system to break a mass tie and offer entry-level firefighter positions, despite a lawsuit from some affected applicants who claim the city doesn’t have the power to do so.

Commissioners conferred in an executive, or closed door, session regarding the lawsuit, then Fire Chief John Alston recommended they move forward with the lottery system, noting the civil service list is time-sensitive.

“It is still my recommendation for the entry-level list, based on the time that we have left with this list and the ability of the police department to support us in our background investigations … that we utilize a lottery system,” said Alston.

The commission unanimously endorsed the idea.

A total of 99 people scored a perfect 100 on the entrance exam, according to a civil service list filed in the case brought by lead plaintiff Lt. Samod Rankins, a member of the department injured in the May 12 fire on Valley Street, and 30 would-be firefighters.

The city had planned to draw numbered balls to determine the order in which candidates receive job offers, citing pandemic-related limitations on the size of the next class. It halted that plan after the suit was filed, then moved forward through the vote this week.

The plaintiffs, represented by attorney Patricia Cofrancesco, allege the city does not have the power to use a lottery to break the tie, as it had not established that procedure in its civil service bylaws.

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