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It’s one of the most challenging jobs in the city – and among the most rewarding.

Mayor Byron W. Brown and Buffalo Fire Department officials launched a citywide recruitment campaign for “a few good men and women” to join the ranks of Buffalo’s bravest.

“We will have a boots-on-the-ground campaign throughout the city of Buffalo, throughout the neighborhoods looking for men and women who feel the need to serve their community,” said Garnell W. Whitfield Jr., Buffalo fire commissioner. “We are looking to staff this department for many years to come.”

The theme of the outreach: Firefighters in Buffalo are “ordinary people trained to do extraordinary things.”

It will culminate in the firefighter civil service exam Nov. 19.

“This is a great job. It’s a great opportunity for young people in the city of Buffalo,” Brown said.

The last firefighter civil service exam in Buffalo was held in 2008. The city hired 159 firefighters from that list. Whitfield expects a significant number will be hired off of the new list generated by the test, expected to stay in place for the next four years.

This latest recruitment campaign encourages veterans, minorities and women to join the ranks of the department.

Of the 643 sworn personnel in the Buffalo Fire Department, 23 are women, including two chief officers and two lieutenants.

In addition, 142 African-Americans and 36 Hispanics are employed, Whitfield said.

“We’re certainly looking to diversify the department even further so it reflects the community it serves,” the commissioner added.

Under the new collective bargaining agreement between the firefighters’ union and the city, all new hires must be residents of the city.

Qualified applicants – city residents as of July 19 and at least 19 years old with a high school education and no felony record – must file to take the exam by Oct. 19.

There is no cutoff age to become a Buffalo firefighter.

“One of the things that distinguishes the recruitment this year is our firefighters will be very active in assisting with the recruitment,” Brown said, adding that Buffalo firefighters are not only “on the front lines of fighting fires in the city of Buffalo” but “on the front lines of recruiting new members.”

email: tpignataro@buffnews.com