The city of Las Vegas will start accepting applications for firefighter trainees on Monday, following a cheating scandal involving recruits in the city’s last firefighter academy.
It’s the first step in the city’s effort to replenish the Fire Department’s ranks with new recruits after 14 trainees were barred from graduating, costing city taxpayers $718,984 in lost pay, benefits and training expenses for the class.
The date for the next academy of firefighter recruits to begin is uncertain, but it’s expected to be several months away. First, applicants will need to pass a written test in late July, which is followed by an agility test.
The class of 14 firefighter recruits was prevented from graduating in February from the 18-week academy, following suspicions of cheating on a written test. An internal investigation was launched at the request of the state fire marshal office, which oversees testing and certification at most fire agencies in Nevada.
Those former rookies are, however, allowed to reapply for future openings. It’s uncertain if they will. Reapplying doesn’t guarantee they will get another shot at the job, which pays an annual salary of $40,651 during training.
“Whether they are selected or not, I don’t know,” city spokesman Jace Radke said.
After training is finished, firefighters earn salaries ranging from $46,797 to $76,535.
Competition for open slots is keen. All applicants will need to apply quickly.
The city will start accepting online applications at 7:30 a.m. Monday. The city will only accept the first 500 completed, qualified applications submitted through its website.
When the 500-applicant limit is reached, the process will close without notice.
Details were unavailable Friday on whether the city will change anything in the way it oversees recruit training and testing at the next fire academy.
“I’m not sure that there will be any major changes,” said Scott Johnson, president of Las Vegas Firefighters Local 1285. “I will assume the oversight of the academy will probably be much more stringent just because they don’t want anything like that to ever happen again.”
The union represents about 600 members within the city Fire Department and doesn’t manage the academy.
Currently, the department has about 31 open positions, though they aren’t all for new firefighter recruits. That figure includes higher ranks, including engineer and fire captain positions. Those promotable positions have stayed vacant to avoid putting a burden on firefighters and paramedics by the upward movement through the ranks, Johnson said.
Recruits will need to pass a written exam. The department will administer those tests between July 22 and July 25.
To qualify, candidates must be at least 18 years old, have a valid driver’s license and a high school diploma or its equivalent when they apply. Applicants also must have a valid emergency medical technician basic certificate and meet physical condition requirements when they receive a conditional job offer.
Getting qualified isn’t easy.
“It’s not unusual through the process to lose between a third and two thirds of the applicants one way or another,” Johnson said, noting that the physical requirements and background checks are stringent.
It’s been about three years since the department opened up the application process, Johnson said. Usually, the recruit testing takes place about every two years, so it’s a bit behind the regular schedule, he said.
State Fire Marshal Peter Mulvihill, whose office noticed the irregularities in the testing, said the investigation was left in the hands of local authorities. Mulvihill stressed that his office isn’t involved in any of the city’s hiring decisions.
Starting at 7:30 a.m. Monday, online applications can be submitted at www.lasvegasnevada.gov/employment. The job opening will be posted at that time. Applicants can also purchase a study guide for the test for $20 with a credit card or with a $18 money order. That manual, called the Fire & Police Selection’s Firefighter Test Preparation Manual, 10th edition study guide is available at http://www.fpsi.com/applicant_resources.html.
Contact reporter Ben Botkin at email@example.com or 702-405-9781.