The Denver Fire Department turned in thousands of hours of faulty and fraudulent records to an insurance rating agency that helps set insurance prices for homeowners and businesses, a CALL7 investigation found.
More than 13,000 hours of training records for 85 firefighters show them doing the same training, on the same date for the same number of hours. That is virtually impossible since the firefighters were at different houses on different shifts, said Kevin Klein, the state's director of the Division of Fire Safety.
"Does that, in your opinion, appear to be intentional?" CALL7 Investigator Tony Kovaleski asked Klein.
"Somebody made that happen," Klein answered. "It didn't just accidentally occur over and over and over and over again."
But Denver Fire Chief Nick Nuanes said the repeated entries were an accident and no one in his department intentionally turned in falsified records.
"There was no intent here to defraud anybody," he said. "We provided some records (and) the records had errors in them."
The issue began early this year when the Insurance Service Office was trying to rate Glendale and Skyline, whose fire service Denver took over. The ISO rates cities on a number of factors, including the readiness and training of the local fire department. ISO then gives the cities a number that insurance companies use to increase or decrease homeowner and business rates.
Memos between ISO and fire officials show frustration building that Denver could not provide training records for the stations servicing the two neighboring cities.
"We are unable unable to validate the ISO Public Protection Classification (PPC) for the City of Glendale without evidence that the Denver Fire Department provides training to the firefighters working in Glendale," wrote ISO Field Representative Doug Wilch to fire officials. "Glendale property owners could experience disruption to routine property insurance transactions should significant change or discontinuation of Glendale's existing PPC occur."
After repeated requests from ISO, Denver sent Wilch a spreadsheet of training records, according to memos obtained by 7NEWS.
A computer-assisted analysis of those records by CALL7 Investigators showed there were 61 lines of training that appeared to be cut and pasted directly into 85 firefighter's training database.
"They're a mess," Kovaleski said to Nuanes. "They're not accurate by all indications, they're fraudulent. That's intent. You needed to meet a deadline (and) someone magically came up with 85 firefighters having the same amount of training on the same days. It smells."
"They're wrong," Nuanes said.
"You still say there's no intent?" Kovaleski asked.
"There's no intent here, Tony. They're wrong," Nuanes said.
"A simple mistake?" Kovaleski said.
"A mistake," Nuanes said.
But the 7NEWS analysis also found a number of firefighters who had 30 to 40 hours of training put down for a single, 24-hour day.
Or analysis found a firefighter, Louis L. Keller, who called in sick on Jan. 29, 2008, but training records showed he spent two hours training. Another firefighter, William Miller, took four days of vacation in January 2008, but the training records showed more than 20 hours of training for that firefighter over the four vacation days.
After CALL7 investigators started asking questions, Denver Fire officials revamped the training database and sent a new training database to ISO.
Denver Fire also charged 7NEWS $200 for the records despite having to clean up for ISO, and the department initially did not provide the original training database to fill our request under state open records laws.
But even the new database has problems with it.
The new training database included Steven Pizzano training for eight hours on Jan. 19, but fire department leave records show he was on vacation that day. And training records show Matthew L. Lancaster trained for eight hours on June 1, but he was on leave for military training, the records show.