Reports that some would-be firefighters have breached the security of an aptitude test for the Los Angeles County Fire Department by studying the actual examination in advance are being investigated by the county's Internal Services Department, authorities confirmed Thursday.
Internal Services Chief Deputy Director Bill Allen said he has ordered the department's testing unit, which prepares and gives the exam, to find out whether copies of a qualifying examination may have been used to tutor potential candidates.
If it is found that people have cheated, Allen said, his department will attempt to determine how the actual test got out and who is responsible. Then, he said, he will meet with county fire officials to determine what should be done.
The entry-level exam, aimed basically at testing mechanical aptitude, has been administered recently to 4,000 to 5,000 people who hope to be included on a Fire Department hiring list. The potential candidates also face oral interviews.
County Fire Chief Mike Freeman said he was informed late Wednesday that a number of test takers may have seen the examination in advance. Because his department does not prepare or give the exam, Freeman said he asked county officials to investigate.
"It would be inappropriate to do anything until the allegations are substantiated," Freeman said. "I think the important thing right now is that I'm taking decisive and appropriate action."
If it is determined that there has been a breach of security and members of the Fire Department are involved, Freeman said he will order an investigation and contact appropriate law enforcement agencies.