The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

Local and State News

July 3, 2013

Unnecessary questions have firefighters retaking test

ENID, Okla. — Four Enid firefighters who are on track to be promoted must retake a test that initially featured questions it was not supposed to ask.

Enid Fire Marshal Ken Helms said the firefighters, who are angling to be apparatus drivers, had scores “lower than expected” because of the incorrect test.

Helms said he originally asked EMPCO, the test provider, to write questions based only on certain chapters of an apparatus driver handbook.

“One of the textbooks we said we wanted questions from chapters six, eight and 10. And they had questions from the entire textbook,” he said.

It wasn’t until after the June 19 test they discovered something wrong with the test.

“One of the candidates mentioned to me that he felt like some of those questions had come from other chapters. He wasn’t particularly protesting it or making a big issue out of it, but he mentioned it to me,” Helms said. “I went through the test and discovered that yeah, there were quite a few questions that were not from the required materials.”

The promotion applicants already have given an oral interview, submitted resumes, had a performance review and were ranked by seniority, all of which make up 35 percent of their final grade. The written test, though, is worth 65 percent.

They are scheduled to retake the test Monday, and Fire Civil Service Commission will examine their scores in a meeting Tuesday.

There are two handbooks the driver applicants are responsible for studying. There are redundancies between them, though, and that is why Helms wanted EMPCO to limit the chapters queried.

“They would still be valid information for a driver, but they just weren’t in the materials they were told to study,” Helms said.

EMPCO has provided testing materials to Enid Fire Department before, and Helms said he had no problems before this test. A spokesperson for the company could not be reached for comment.

“It’s kind of an anomaly. They either misunderstood my instructions or didn’t pass them on to the person who put the test together,” said Helms. “We’ve gotten a number of tests from them and they do a good job, typically. The content of their questions was good; it was just that the test I got this time was not according to the instructions I gave.”

Apparatus drivers are certified firefighters who have served at least two years — and who pass the test for that position.

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