For most people, 37 isn’t an age many would consider to be the over hill. Beyoncé, for instance, is 37, and it’s doubtful that Blue Ivy is frantically trying to make sure her mom has a room at the best retirement home in the Hamptons.
But for Shaun Donovan, 37 might as well be 77 when it comes to age requirements for joining the FDNY. Even though Donovan has served four combat tours in Iraq and Afghanistan as a U.S. Navy SEAL—earning medals of valor during that time — he’s ineligible to become a New York City firefighter because of civil service age restrictions, the New York Post reports.
Born in Tucson, AZ, on Sept. 11, 1981, and raised in that state, Donovan was drawn to the Big Apple thanks to his parents’ ties to Staten Island. The 9/11 attacks motivated him to enlist in the Navy after graduating from college in 2005. With his time as a special operations chief ending next year, Donovan decided to start down the road to becoming an FDNY firefighter.
“I always had this draw to the city, this connection, even though I never lived there,” he told the Post.
He passed the written exam in October, scoring in the top 1 percent out of the 43,900 people who took the test, according to the Post. In January, he met the job’s physical requirements, which included ladder raising, hose dragging and other tasks.
The only obstacle remaining for Donovan? Father Time.
FDNY regulations stipulate that candidates cannot turn 29 by the start of the application process—in this case, April 5, 2017. Military service, however, can add up to six years to that period, making 35 Donovan’s new cutoff age,
But on Feb. 1, an FDNY investigator told Donovan that he had missed the new mark by six months and 25 days. An appeal also was rejected by Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro.
“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.”
If Donovan’s appeal to the Civil Service Commission is rejected, he still could file a lawsuit in order to make hsi dream of becoming an FDNY firefighter come true.