FORT LAUDERDALE (CBSMiami) – Fire officials at the highest level within the Fort Lauderdale Fire Department are at the center of a test cheating investigation.
The investigation began after a firefighter who took a promotional exam filed a complaint with the city charging that some candidates had an unfair advantage.
The city confirms there is an active investigation into whether the fire chief and some assistant chiefs gave advance answers to candidates competing for promotions.
A statement released by the Fort Lauderdale Professional Fire Fighters Union states they, “are aware of the allegations of misconduct currently being investigated by the city. The Firefighters Union does not condone inappropriate behavior by anyone, at any level, within the Fire Department. The allegations brought forward are serious in nature and if true, do not reflect the integrity and professionalism that each and every firefighter portrays daily. The allegations against members of the Department’s senior staff are serious in nature, however, they do not involve individuals represented by the professional firefighters. The Union truly hopes these allegations are thoroughly investigated and, if true, handled swiftly as to not affect the operations of the Fire Department or the safety of the community.”
“It’s upsetting to all the members. No one wants a black eye. This is not good. It loses trust in the Upper staff,” Union President Scott Bayne told CBS4.
The Office of Professional Standards is handling the investigation.
Fort Lauderdale Mayor Jack Seiler says he has every confidence in the current Fire Chief Robert Hoecherl who has been chief since 2013.
“Chief Hoecherl has been outstanding and has elevated this department,” said Seiler.
The mayor says, so far, there’s no evidence of any wrongdoing but it is a search for the truth.
“We believe people should be promoted based on merit and if there is evidence anyone had an advantage, that would be improper,” he said.