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Local News

Joliet fire chief says suspect test never given to firefighter applicants

JOLIET – Prospective firefighters did not take a specific test after exam questions were rumored to have been leaked out, Joliet Fire Chief Joseph Formhals said Monday.

The compromised test was mentioned at a candidates forum Saturday by Councilman Bob O’Dekirk during a debate among mayoral contenders.

O’Dekirk, following a comment by Mayor Tom Giarrante that the exam to get on the fire department is “a fair test,” suggested otherwise by mentioning the report of questions and answers being leaked out.

Formhals said Monday the fire department had the test changed, although the rumor of questions being leaked out was never found to be true.

“We did an investigation when it was brought to our attention. Nothing was substantiated,” Formhals said.

He said the test was changed “just to be on the safe side.”

“There was a totally different test that was given to the new hires, so there was no impropriety that was done,” Formhals said.

He noted that the matter was discussed at a public meeting of the City Council Public Safety Committee. O’Dekirk is a committee member.

The exam being taken was a “validation” test, given to firefighters already on the force to determine whether questions are applicable to the fire department where the test is given, said City Manager Jim Hock.

The test was given in 2013.

But the matter has come up again as the city prepares for a new round of firefighter tests. What happened in 2013 is being reviewed before the City Council decides what company to hire for the next round of tests.

O’Dekirk said he and Councilwoman Jan Quillman heard from two of the commissioners about the rumored leak of questions from the exam.

“We brought it forward in executive session,” he said. “It was never really confirmed or denied, which doesn’t surprise me.”

Formhals said he thought the matter was covered at the March 3 meeting of the Public Safety Committee.

“I thought we left that meeting with everyone crystal clear that this is what happened,” he said.

O’Dekirk could not immediately be reached Monday evening to respond to Formhals’ comments regarding the March 3 meeting, which came during a second interview in the afternoon.

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