The city is throwing out the results of a written test taken by 2,300 firefighter recruit applicants in September because of concerns that some of them had an unfair advantage.
It's the second time the city had troubles with the firefighters' test this year.
In October, the city turned firefighter recruit applicants away from a test at the University of Hawaii's Manoa campus. It was supposed to be held at a lecture hall with potential firefighters answering how they'd respond to certain situations played on video screens.
Unbeknownst to the city, the vendor sold sample video tests online. The city canceled the test because officials thought the samples gave some applicants an unfair advantage. The video vendor refunded the city $8,000, the cost of that test.
Now, the city is throwing out another component of the firefighter application process: the written test taken by more than 2,000 people in September because of a similar problem.
"We decided that the fairest thing to do was for that portion to start new and everybody retake it," city Human Resources Director Ken Nakamatsu said.
The city didn't know and didn't tell applicants they could buy sample written tests and study guides online from the testing company for $15. The city said five applicants bought the samples.
"It wasn't well known that anybody who was interested in getting better prepared could access that Web site," Nakamatsu said.
So, the city wants the testing vendor to refund the city $23,500 for the written test and will hold another written firefighters test on Feb. 25.
The fire chief said the problems will delay firefighter hiring by three months.
"We don't think that will affect us in any way. Plus, we have minimal retirees this year. In fact, it's the smallest that we've had in the last eight or nine years that I can remember," Chief Attilio Leonardi said.
Leonardi said there are about 17 fire department retirees this year compared to 40 or more retirees in an average year.
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