Navy SEAL is told he is too old to join FDNY.

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FDNY rejects Navy SEAL applicant for being too old

April 29, 2019 - 12:28 pm

By Ben Krimmel

A decorated Navy SEAL wanted to join the New York Fire Department after his service ended but was told he was six months too old. 

Special Operations Chief Shaun Donovan hoped to give back to a city he loves after he finished serving the country he loves.

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

“I believe in the city, I believe in its values and its people. I want to do my part to keep it safe,” said Donovan, whose parents are from New York.

Born September 11, 1981, in Tucson, Arizona, Donovan was inspired to serve after 9/11 and enlisted in the Navy after college in 2005. He served four tours in the Middle East.

With his service set to end in 2020, he applied to the FDNY on April 5, 2017, according to The Post. But, even with the department's six-year age extension for military applicants, Donovan was still six months and 25 days too old. 

However, the age discrepancy wasn't noticed until this year after Donovan twice used leave to fly to New York from the Naval Special Warfare Basic Training Command in San Diego at a cost of over $1,300. Once when he completed the written firefighter exam in October 2018 and scored in the top 1 percent of 43,900 applicants, and again in January 2019 when he passed the Candidate Physical Ability Test in January 2019. 

It wasn't until February that Donovan learned from an FDNY background investigator he didn't qualify because of his age.

“It was a letdown,” he told The Post. “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.”

Daniel Nigro, Commissioner of the New York City Fire Department, rejected Donovan's appeal. A spokesman told Connecting Vets "the age requirement is per state civil service law and not subject to interpretation." 

But Donovan isn't giving up.

Now 37, he has appealed to the NYC Civil Service Commission. The Post reports if his appeal is rejected he may file suit, according to attorney Kevin Carroll of the law firm Wiggin and Dana, who is representing him pro bono.

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