A growing number of city and county fire departments now draw most of their black, Hispanic and women recruits from a program in which the U.S. government pays a union to help minority members pass local civil service tests.

Last week, the International Association of Firefighters renewed its sixth annual contract to provide specialized tutoring to minority group job candidates for firefighter jobs in 14 areas. The union will get $750,000 this year to tutor minority applicants for various departments, including those in Fairfax County and Baltimore City.

The special training program is said to be the only one of its kind in the nation, although the government does pay other groups to find and train job candidates.

The agreement between the Labor Department and the AFL-CIO union has been in existence for six years as part of a federal-state-local government program to increase the number of minorities in firefighter jobs.

Since the program began, the union, which represents most of the nation's organized firefighters, has helped 4,800 people qualify on the tests. Just over 1,300 were actually hired, most of them black males.

This year the cities in the program - Kansas City, Los Angeles city and county, Austin, Tex.; St. Paul, St. Louis, Yakima, Wash.; Oakland, Calif., and Yonkers, White Plains, Mount Vernon and New Rochelle, N.Y., expect many of their 1,080 anticipated openings to be filled by minority candidates from the government-union program. Last year about 14 women were hired through the program.

Locally, Baltimore expects to have 150 vacancies this year its firefighter force of 1,751. Fairfax County, with 633 firefighters, believes it will fill about 70 jobs. Most of the new hires, Labor officials say, will be minority group members who have qualified through the special tutoring program.

Dr. Irene K. Flasher, who left Defense Mapping Agency last year, is the winner of the National Association of Retired Federal Employes $2,500 retiree of the year award. NARFE will hold a reception for the contest finalists May 31.

Finalists in the contest were Smith Blair, General Accounting Office; Edward J. Blume, Library of Congress; James E. Carter, Federal Aviation Administration; U. Alexis Johnson, State Department; Jack A. Kinzler, NASA; Velva L. Klaesay, National Security Agency Alberton L. McLain, Interior; Frank Reggia, Harry Diamond Labs, and Robert L. Ross, Scoll Conservation Service.

The retirees represent the best the career service has produced - and invaluable talent and knowledge that have been lost because of their retirements.