I have tried to repeatedly confirm this information through "official" Hartford Fire Department channels and even through the Mayor. Those requests have gone unanswered. Several sources in the HFD have also showed me text messages sent out and have confirmed that department members have been warned that if they are caught talking to "the media" they face immediate termination. You would think they would have learned something about wrongful termination after the Nolan decision, but I won't beat a dead horse here.
Anyway, a few months ago I received information from sources that that the standards for hiring for the upcoming recruit class were being lowered. The academy time was planned on being cut from fourteen weeks to eight, certification was to only be for Firefighter 1, rather than the normal Firefighter 2 from previous training classes.
The most disturbing part arrived in my e-mail today. Apparently six Fire Department Cadets took the written test. One passed after he had previously failed out of the last academy class. The other five failed the written exam. Apparently plans were in the works to hire the five who couldn't pass the written exam anyways. Once "the media" started asking questions, those plans were apparently scrapped.
Now the disturbing part. Councilwoman rJo Winch and Mayor Segarra have slid an item onto tonight's agenda entitled "Replacement Item #48, AN ORDINANCE ESTABLISHING A FIRE CADET TRAINING ACADEMY PROGRAM AND CURRICULUM.
Interestingly enough, under Winch's ordinance the Cadets who couldn't pass the test, now won't even have to take it. What is the sense of the Cadet program if they can't even pass the test? In theory, shouldn't people receiving special training in the Cadet program be the ones at the top of the list as far as test scores?
According to the Winch/Segarra ordinance :
(1)Fire Cadets must also successfully complete the following components of the Firefighter Civil Service Examination Process:
(i) The Oral Examination
(ii) Physical Agility
In case you didn't notice , the written exam requirement has been removed from the ordinance.
For anyone who has never seen a police or firefighters funeral, take my advice, you don't want to. They will send a chill down your spine and have a definite impact on you. I don't want to be viewing any firefighter funerals in Hartford because we have lowered our standards.
And again, anyone who read the Nolan decision can pretty much see as the hearing officer did, that the termination was politically motivated as a result of Nolan refusing to lower the standards. Councilwoman Winch played a role in that when she championed the cause of a recruit, now actually a Firefighter, Felicia Graves. Winch even went so far as to have private meetings in her office with Graves and intervened on her behalf with the Fire Chief at the time.
Reading the hearing officers report shows exactly what is wrong with hiring unqualified persons for apparently political reasons. Even former Assistant Chief Michael Parker testified at Nolan's hearing that he never would have hired Graves when he was the Fire Chief in West Hartford, and he questioned her being hired in Hartford.
If we continue to lower our standards just so that political cronies can get hired, is a potential disaster far off? To read about another Hartford Firefighter who had the standards lowered after he received his employment reference from former Mayor Eddie A. Perez, click here. or here for another story
The Council Meeting's public session,if you would like to comment, is tonight at 6:00PM at City Hall