Honolulu Fire Department recruits go through 8 months of rigorous testing before graduating.
Recent developments have the Honolulu City Council questioning the process after a high number of recruits failed a test.
Council member Ann Kobayashi and former Council member Ernie Martin are asking the Honolulu Fire Commission to review HFD’S recruit training and testing programs. Kobayashi believes things could have been done differently.
She says 4 former firefighter recruits reached out to the council and explained their predicament. They were taking a practical exam on EMT training.
“Where 10 out of the 12 recruits failed. That should have been warning bells going off. To check, 10 out of 12?” said Kobayashi.
She added it was the highest failing percentage in the history of the Honolulu Fire Department.
“And then a few minutes later without any explanation they were re-tested. Then those 4 failed,” she continued.
Kobayashi said the recruits were rushed into re-taking the test, without knowing what they did wrong the first time. The councilwoman brought their concerns about the testing process to Honolulu Fire Chief Manuel Neves.
“They want these recruits to do well. But when they fail twice, they felt we have to let them go,” she explained. “Even if they don’t reinstate the 4 recruits, which I hope they look at, the whole process has to be looked at.”
Union president Bobby Lee says the Hawaii Firefighters Association said 4 recruits being let go is unprecedented. The union filed a grievance.
“When you get 10 out of 12 that flunk, the process should be stop and figure out how come you have a high amount of people failed at first stop? Instead of stopping, they accelerated and didn’t take what we believe was the proper time to reassess what happened,” said Lee.
“It’s about trying to help our recruits succeed, not set them up to fail,” he added.
The Honolulu Fire Department says the tests are fair and performed the same way each year.
“We do understand it is difficult anytime somebody gets let go from the fire department. We do have standards and testing and it is a difficult process. The chief is aware of all those things and he will work with the Fire Commission on this,” said department spokesman and Captain Scot Seguirant.