[cifnmedia] Unit 5 Sources Allege Fire Academy Cheating

  • From: "Wilcox, Christopher M" <cmwilcox@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <cifnmedia@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Fri, 31 Oct 2003 21:18:19 -0600

Unit 5 Sources Allege Fire Academy Cheating

POSTED: 8:57 a.m. CST October 31, 2003
UPDATED: 1:55 p.m. CST October 31, 2003

CHICAGO -- In an Unit 5 exclusive report on the Chicago Fire Department,
Dave Savini <http://www.nbc5.com/nbc5/1178998/detail.html>  uncovered an
alleged "exam scam" at the Fire Academy, in which firefighters are
allegedly given the answers to key placement exams -- and then assigned
to jobs. 

 VIDEO: 'Exam Scam' Alleged

"We've learned that the governor's office has been notified at this hour
about the alleged cheating scandal we uncovered," Savini said at 10 p.m.
Thursday. "And we've learned that at least eight fire academy
instructors had to be removed from their posts because they were not
even certified to teach." 

But most alarming, Savini said, was a claim by his sources that exam
questions and answers were given in advance to firefighters "since at
least the year 2000." 


SAVINI: "In the wake of the fatal Loop fire, serious questions are being
raised about the training of Chicago firefighters. Tonight, our Unit 5
investigative team has uncovered a secret kept for at least three years
behind (the walls of the Chicago Fire Academy) -- a Chicago Fire Academy
cheating scandal." 

UNIDENTIFIED FIREFIGHTER: "They put these guys on the street with
minimum training, minimum knowledge, and it's ... it's ... it could be
dangerous and, from what I hear, it has been." 

SAVINI: "This fireman who says he's afraid of losing his job. He says
firefighters have gotten their hands on the exams they must pass to
become certified as emergency medical technicians. 

"Unit 5 obtained copies of the test that an untold number of
firefighters allegedly have used to cheat. (Showing test) Take a look:
All of the answers are filled in. 

"So how did they get the test? Our sources say it's been handed out
right at the academy. 

"(Addressing firefighter) In essence, what you're saying is that
teachers at the academy are helping them cheat." 


LESLEE STEIN SPENCER: "We are concerned about whether or not the exam
has been compromised." 

SAVINI: "Leslee Stein Spencer is chief of Emergency Medical Services for
the Illinois Department of Health, tha agency that certifies
firefighters and EMTs." 

SPENCER: "It wasn't the first time. We have had, I think, issues over
the years where we've seen that the exam has gotten out." 

SAVINI: "Spencer says the exams are supposed to be kept under lock and

SPENCER: "They have signed papers with us that it is in a locked, secure

SAVINI: "So they have all the answers to the questions in advance." 

FIREFIGHTER: "Yes, they do." 

SAVINI: "In fact, last month, state inspectors pulled off the street 11
firefighter EMTs assigned to ambulances when they flunked spot checks
and couldn't answer basic medical questions." 

SPENCER: "The questions were something that every EMT that we license in
Illinois should know." 

SAVINI: "Sources say another problem is that trainees don't show up for
class since they have the tests to cheat from. 

"(Addressing firefighter) How bad is it?" 

FIREFIGHTER: "Oh, it could be very bad. There have been stories and
cases where patient care has been compromised." 

Fire Department Response, State Investigation

In a statement from the Chicago Fire Department, a spokesman said that
if the Department had been notified of any cheating allegations, it
would have conducted a thorough investigation, Savini said. 

Savini said an Illinois Public Health Department probe is now underway. 

"They say if instructors gave out these questions, that is of great
concern," Savini said. "It calls into question the integrity of the
entire testing process. If warranted, a complete re-testing can be

Savini said he was told that if the allegations are true, they could be
considered criminal.

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