By Julie Montanaro
February 14, 2014
A Tallahassee firefighter may be on the hot seat for some after-hours training.
A would be student claims a lieutenant offered to skip the class and provide the answers to the test instead.
A yet to be named lieutenant with the Tallahassee Fire Department is accused of offering advanced training classes without the classes.
"A potential student was told that they could receive test materials and test answers in exchange for registration into the course," TFD Spokesman Mike Bellamy said.
Firefighters trying to earn advanced certifications - that improve their skill set and make them eligible for promotions and higher pay - can take courses at the state fire college, community colleges or from ceritfied instructors.
They can cost hundreds of dollars.
It's not clear yet if this lieutenant was certified. The state fire marshal's office is looking into that.
"There are Florida statutes and rules that they do have to follow, so this is not something that they can make up a course on their own," said CFO Spokesman Chris Cate.
"We will be looking to see who the students were that would have taken these courses and how far back this would have gone, it would not be limited to just Tallahassee firefighters, it could also include firefighters from anywhere in our area," Bellamy said.
The Tallahassee Fire Department stresses these classes took place off duty and off the premises. They are trying to find and interview the students and have asked the Tallahassee Police Department to determine if there was any criminal intent.
"If these courses are to develop our skills and ability to be a public servant, you also have the ability to compromise public safety," Bellamy said.
TFD stresses that the investigation is in its early stages and these are just allegations right now. The department couldn't provide a timeline for when its investigation might be finished.
News Release: Tallahassee Fire Department
February 14, 2014
The City of Tallahassee Fire Department today announced an Internal Affairs Investigation has begun into allegations that a city fire lieutenant working in an off-duty capacity, failed to deliver training he was paid to provide. The Tallahassee Police Department will conduct a separate investigation to determine if there was any criminal intent.
The case came to light after a potential student notified the State Fire Marshal's Office alleging that an instructor offered that instead of taking the class, the student could receive the course information, test and test answers for a fee. The State Fire Marshal's Office provides training and certification for fire service professionals. Instructors are certified through the State Fire Marshal's Office, and then can arrange to teach classes to firefighters seeking advanced training such as Fire Safety Inspector, Fire Officer, Fire Arson Investigator, etc.
"At this point, we do not have enough information to know the validity of the issues, however for the Fire Department our integrity and commitment to public service require us to take this very seriously," said John Gatlin, Acting Fire Chief. "We do know that this training was not provided through the city or our fire department, but because it may involve one or more city fire employees, we are investigating to gather all the facts."
Firefighters who receive advanced training can be eligible for pay supplements, and advanced certificates may be necessary to be considered for promotions. "We will also be working to ensure that we have a clear understanding of whether any of our firefighters did not take the necessary training for these higher level designations," said Gatlin.
Officials with the State Fire Marshal’s Office are also conducting an investigation into whether any potential statutory or administrative violations may have taken place.