Thousands of applicants take Chicago firefighters entrance exam

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Tens of thousands of people are taking the first step this weekend in the application process to become a Chicago firefighter or EMT, the first time the test has been administered since 2006.

They came in in droves on Saturday, hoping the test will change their lives.

"It's a good opportunity," said John Kiriakakis. "You can see where you are in life if you are fortunate enough to get the call."

Over 8,000 people showed up early Saturday morning to take the Chicago Fire Department firefighter/EMT exam.

It does come with controversy, though.

After the exam in 1995, tens of millions of dollars were paid to African-American firefighter applicants after discrimination lawsuits. Discrimination lawsuits were also filed by women who applied for the test and did not get hired. Mayor Rahm Emanuel called the exam a mistake, and promised changes.

"They come from all over the country," he said. "We have more women than ever before applying now, all different types of races, religions. A big mass of people, which is good. We love being diverse, that's what's happening now."

Those that took the exam are just happy they have the change to hopefully stand with some of Chicago's best.

"To come back and serve, give back to the community," said Ahshare Claybrooks. "I was raised here so I came back and gave it a shot."

"It would be a dream come true for me," Tasmeen Manuel said.

Upwards of 25,000 people are expected to take the test through Sunday.

This test is just the first step for the 25,000 people expected to take it through Sunday and it can be a long waiting process. Those selected from the 2006 exam were only hired this year.

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