Though he found the FDNY's hiring practices racist, saying they discriminated against black and Hispanic firefighter candidates, federal judge Nicholas Garaufis offered the city a compromise to allow the FDNY to hire 300 more recruits from the Fire Academy. Here are his suggested approaches, via the Post:

* Randomly selecting enrollees from the top 2,500 scorers on the last test. To increase the pool of black and Hispanic candidates, the city would eliminate the lowest-scoring whites in the group and add the highest-scoring minorities who did not make the top 2,500.

* Hire candidates who represent a racial breakdown of the test takers. Sixty percent would be white; 17 percent black; 18 percent Hispanic; 2 percent Asian and 1 percent others.

* Hire candidates based on their scores on the last test, even though minorities would be under-represented, on condition that the next two classes enroll a higher percentage of black and Hispanic candidates.

Garaufis found that the city's past three FDNY exams discriminated against nonwhites. The Center for Constitutional Rights, which questioned the exam's merits, told the Daily News that the judge's options were fine, "There is no perfect alternative, all of these methods will inevitably result in someone getting screwed."

The city has until this Friday at noon to decide whether to go ahead with one of these methods.