Published Monday, June 10, 2013 | 11:51 a.m.
Updated Monday, June 10, 2013 | 5:30 p.m.
The competition to land a job as a Las Vegas firefighter is heating up after a pool of 500 applicants was filled in less than half an hour Monday morning.
It took only 24 minutes to receive the maximum 500 applications for the Las Vegas Fire and Rescue firefighter trainee program after the job was posted on the city’s website at 7:30 a.m. today.
About two dozen people will be chosen to enter the department’s academy and ultimately become firefighters upon graduating, a job that pays a $46,797 minimum salary.
Applicants, who must have Emergency Medical Technician certification and a high school diploma or equivalent, will continue the competitive process with a written exam that is scheduled for July 22-25.
Candidates identified to move forward will take a physical ability test and be interviewed by the city.
The department will select 24 people, roughly equal to the number of vacant firefighter positions, to enter the recruit academy, which will likely begin in January and lasts 20 weeks, interim chief Steve Smith said.
The city hadn’t planned to recruit more firefighters this summer but decided to do so after a cheating scandal in the previous class led to 14 recruits not graduating in February.
The entire class was dismissed after suspicions of cheating were raised on a written exam, costing the city $718,984, or $51,356 per recruit, in salaries, benefits and training costs.
The loss of 14 potential firefighters also leaves the department understaffed, requiring the use of more overtime to keep stations fully staffed, Smith said.
To avoid the problems that derailed the last recruitment, Smith said the department has changed its testing procedure. Where previously the written exam was proctored by a member of Las Vegas Fire & Rescue, from now on either a representative from the State Fire Marshal's Office or a certified outside agency will oversee the test.
“After this incident with our last academy we met with the State Fire Marshal. We discussed ways that could resolve or decrease our possibility of having it happen again,” said Smith, who took over as chief in April. “The proctor that was responsible for this last test may not have been following the guidelines of the state fire marshal.”
Smith said the department has also submitted its entire training curriculum to the state fire marshal for review to make sure it meets all state certification standards.
The dismissed recruits from the last academy were allowed to reapply on Monday, but they must compete with the rest of the 500 applicants for the job.