Thousands Gather To Apply For Jobs with LA County Fire

(FOX 11 / CNS) Out of 6,700 firefighter hopefuls, 4.511 applicants showed up at the Pomona fairgrounds Wednesday to apply for open positions with the LA County Fire department.

Almost as many are expected to return Thursday. The gates opened at 5:00am and will continue until 3:00pm. The applicants are taking a 2 part written exam, The exams are actually flown in by helicopter, and delivered by a Brinks truck to the site.

Los Angeles County Fire Chief Daryl Osby announced Wednesday he will be recommending discipline ranging from suspension to firing for employees who helped applicants cheat on firefighter employment exams.

Osby did not specify how many employees would be disciplined, but said a county audit of the hiring process implicated "fewer than 50" people in the cheating scandal.

"While the numbers show that cheating was far from endemic or widespread, I absolutely will not tolerate any behavior that undermines the integrity of our department," Osby said. "We can't afford the actions of a few to erode the public trust that has been hard-earned by generations of county firefighters."

A Los Angeles Times investigation in July found an unusually high number of family members of firefighters were hired by the department and that insiders had access to the interview questions and answers for prospective recruits. Evidence of more widespread cheating was revealed during the county audit, which was spurred by The Times' investigation.

Interviews and a search of 52 million department emails by auditors confirmed that test prep information for incoming candidates was circulated among employees, including captains and battalion commanders.

The audit found that employees also shared information on other tests, including civil service exams for promotion to fire captain and tests for driving and emergency medical skills.

A new written exam for firefighter hopefuls was given to applicants Wednesday, and will be again Thursday, to more than 4,500 applicants at the Pomona Fairplex. The written portion of the test features "a fresh set of questions and will be administered only once" to prevent the sharing of questions and answers, according to the county Fire Department.

According to the department, previous versions of the written test recycled many of the same questions.

"Today we turn the page from our past and are beginning a new era in the 92-year history of the department," Osby said. "We're opening a chapter of test integrity with an exam process that is fair, transparent and provides equal opportunities for people to work in one of the county's great public service agencies."

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