THE BRONX - The Fire Department of New York's commissionersays it has recruited almost twice as many black candidates for itsupcoming exam as it did for the last test in an effort to reach out to minorities.

Commissioner Salvatore Cassano made the statement while testifying in Brooklyn Federal Court about ongoing litigation concerning the lack of diversity at the FDNY.

Cassano says nearly 17,000 people applied to take the test and15 percent of those were black. In the last test, administered in 2007, only 8 percent of those who applied were black. Residents can still apply to take the test until Sept. 15.