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Firefighter exam investigation report comes to light

Updated: Jun. 16, 2021 at 10:20 PM CDT
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LAREDO, Tex. (KGNS) - After allegations of favoritism and cheating within a recent Laredo Fire Department hiring process were dismissed by the city, KGNS requested the investigation documents.

In this 40 page document is a review of complaints made by fire department candidates and family members, as well as interviews with fire personnel over what happened during a recent fire department’s oral interview evaluation day.

It is the city’s understanding that the oral evaluation day is the main focus of this investigation, but how did all this get started?

On page six of the report, the investigation states that a change in the score sheet for one candidate is the “center of attention” to the complaints and discussions.

The report alleges that the only reason the candidate passed was because he was the nephew of a firefighter.

During evaluation day, the firefighter allegedly asked that his nephew’s score sheet be recalculated to reflect a passing score of 70.

However, the nephew was eventually disqualified during the polygraph portion.

This was the cause of several complaints.

Many people involved in this case had a family member or close family friend that was going through the hiring process, but then those family members or acquaintances were disqualified.

They started engaging in group discussions and “encouraged each other to take action against the fire department and the City of Laredo based off their perception of wrong doings.”

Those who saw the alleged improprieties failed to follow protocol in taking their concerns to the appropriate channels including the fire chief, human resources, and city management.

The report says instead they “engaged in inflaming the conspiracy theories of cheating, favoritism... and eventually those ideas were shared to various social media outlets by an unknown source.”

The report sites a total of 8 complaints that were made by roughly 5 to 6 people, but with the names being redacted it’s hard to tell.

Many of the complaints which involved candidates that were disqualified were found to be unsubstantiated.

The report states that these candidates failed solely due to their score or polygraph test.

Fourteen fire staff were interview, thirteen said that they didn’t know of any wrongdoing, and one didn’t outright say they saw cheating but mentioned the incident where a firefighter challenged the disqualification of their nephew.

The report did include recommendations for the department moving forward including: not allowing current fire personnel to be involved in hiring or academy process if they have a family member involved, keeping score sheets and confidential information under lock and key, and much more.

If you’d like a look at the full report, you can click here.

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