City completes investigation into fire department’s hiring process

Updated: Jun. 8, 2021 at 9:03 PM CDT
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LAREDO, Tex. (KGNS) - Cheating, favoritism, and unfair practices... those are some of the allegations being made against the Laredo Fire Department when it comes to its practices in hiring cadets.

In March, District 5 Councilman Ruben Gutierrez revealed that allegations surfaced about what some say was going on behind the scenes at the fire department as they hire a new class of cadets.

“I didn’t get one complaint, I didn’t get two complaints... I got complaints from eight different people and from ten to twelve different firefighters that were at the facility and that heard different rumors and stuff.”

This kicked off an internal investigation by the city.

While that was taking place, Fire Chief Guillermo Heard decided to redo the evaluation and agility phase.

“Which in consultation with legal, HR, and city management is something that was advised the fire chief had the ability to do,” said Heard. “I could not actually change the process itself but I could redo the process.”

But that didn’t sit well with some candidate who say they passed the first time but not the second one, and they let city council know their frustrations.

“I passed, you know, nothing was handed to me,” said Fernando Cruz. " I, without a shadow of a doubt... um... and for two people to be accommodated in this whole process that failed to begin with um... it’s not fair.”

Council’s response was that this was an unfortunate casualty of making sure things were done right.

“Maybe some of you all suffered as a result of that, but yet the integrity of the program and testing was first and foremost,” said Mayor Pete Saenz.

In a statement released by the city Tuesday evening, they say that the allegations were found to be unsubstantiated.

Human resources was called in during the re-doing of the fire entrance exam, and according to a city council member, they will continue to be a part of future hirings.

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