Chief Steve Smith, City of Las Vegas Fire Department
BY IAN MYLCHREEST -- The City of Las Vegas Fire Department is trying to fix a cheating scandal. It’s just not saying very much about what the scandal was or how it came about.
The results of a firefighter academy were abruptly canceled in February when the cheating was discovered by the State Fire Marshall’s office. The city has refused to describe the exact nature of the scandal or who was to blame but as of late March, the Fire Marshall was still investigating who in the department might have been responsible. Any member of the Las Vegas Fire Department who was involved could potentially lose their license as a firefighter.
The department’s fix for the problems is to either hire an outside proctor or to borrow one from another jurisdiction to run the exam or organize the exam through the College of Southern Nevada.
Fire Chief Steve Smith refused to be drawn on the issue of whether the internal proctor the department previously used was to blame for the cheating. “That’s more of an HR, human resource, issue right there. The investigation and all that happened before I took the reins of Las Vegas Fire and Rescue.” He wants to look forward and restore faith in the recruiting academy.
Smith hinted that the department is looking at getting new equipment to ensure the integrity of the testing process. The department is looking at “supporting the needs of the proctor to ensure they have all the materials they need to have a valid testing process, the facility meets their needs. But we also have the equipment available to them so again they don’t have any need that does not allow them complete their task for the State Fire Marshall,” he said.
The investigation showed that not all the material was there and that there should have been a supervisor above the proctor’s position to ensure all the requirements were being met, said Smith.
Most mystifying of all was Smith’s refusal to categorically say that none of the 14 who were part of the cheating scandal will not be rehired for the next class of trainee firefighters. “The hiring process is handled through the human resource division. We assist them in the process by providing personnel while they complete the recruitment process.”
Legally, the cheaters are allowed to apply because they were simply not confirmed as firefighters.