Question. What do you get when you combine 7000 applicants, a small number of positions, and an unsupervised on line exam designed to reduce that number to 200.
Answer. A very embarrassing situation for Fire Rescue NSW.
Out of concern for the integrity of a firefighters role and perhaps even the safety of the public, a brave sole from FRNSW’s Human Resources section has sent us a message highlighting some disturbing points.
– Although the new recruitment process has been operational for a number of years this is the first time a verification test has been included (test ensures applicants did not cheat in their unsupervised on line test, usually completed at home)
– A large number of applicants scored significantly lower than their initial test, indicating that cheating has occurred.
– Recruits that have recently graduated have advised us that they are not surprised. In fact, many suggested that in their own graduating class (usually 20-24), you would be lucky to find 5 that claimed that they did not cheat.
– Cheating usually consisted of someone else doing all or part of the online exams, however, “dummy runs” are also possible. You are generally required to wait 12 months before a retest to ensure you cannot practice however this is easily overcome by applying in another name first.
Human Resources advised us of some of the ramifications.
– Obviously these applicants will not progress to the recruit stage.
– Some of the applicants are existing employees within FRNSW (most are on call/retained firefighters) so there will be some form of disciplinary action.
– As this was the first time a verification test was included, there are 200+ (approx) firefighters that are in the job that have been unverified, most recent recruits agreeing that a cheat rate of 75% would be a reasonable assumption.
– By doing the correct thing, many hundreds of applicants have missed out on a chance to become a firefighter, some may have applied for up to 15 years.
Management have dealt the reputation of Fire Rescue NSW a massive blow. There would be recruits/firefighters within the mix that have passed correctly only to have their good name questioned. Management were well aware of the potential for trouble. The on-line company that administer the test state that they cannot stop cheating and that a verification test would be appropriate in most circumstances. It is astonishing that Fire Rescue NSW have treated existing firefighters, applicants and the public of NSW with such contempt.
We are receiving information all the time but we will not comment unless the details are confirmed from a number of different sources so it takes time, please be patient. We get no joy from discrediting this great organisation, management have given firefighters and the many thousands that apply no other choice. If management were to advise all staff (who will pass it on to us) that they are aware of the problems of the current process and will ensure that next years will be robust and meaningful, then we will move on and continue to highlight the excellent work that the NSW public has witnessed from their firefighters over many decades.