State Fire Marshal Division Special Agent in Charge Steve DeJoode says the firefighters were not included in the original notification due to a clerical error. “We discovered that our original mailing did not include those individuals. It was not a matter of discovering new facts or circumstances,” DeJoode says.
Some 1,700 firefighters were notified that some 2,200 certifications were improperly scored when the letters first went out. He says the program used to send out the first letters failed to pull out all of the names.
DeJoode says they corrected that and sent out the letters as soon as they discovered the problem. The former certification and accreditation coordinator, John McPhee, was placed on paid administrative leave in April, and then charged in January with felonious misconduct in office and tampering with records for improperly certifying the tests. DeJoode says firefighters have been offered the chance to retake the test for free. He says they have approximately 400 people who have restested.
DeJoode says they’ve adjust to be sure the certifications are now properly handled. He says they are now using Iowa State University to make sure the exams are properly scored. DeJoode says each individual department determines how the certification process impacts firefighters.
“The accreditation to a national standard is not a state mandate or requirement. However, some fire departments may require it and some fire departments in Iowa do require certifications to various levels for their personnel,” DeJoode says. He says firefighters pay $50 for the certification and have three attempts to pass. The latest round of letters impacts firefighters in 94 departments.