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Iowa Department of Public Safety
215 East 7th Street
Des Moines, Iowa 50319

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For immediate release: Alex Murphy
  Public Information Officer
Investigative Operations
Iowa Department of Public Safety
January 24, 2017

(515) 443-3014 - cell
(515) 725-6189 - office

Report Released on Fire Services Training Bureau

DES MOINES, Iowa – Today, January 24, 2017, the Iowa Department of Public Safety is releasing a report sent to the Commissioner on the findings of the internal investigation surrounding the improper scoring of tests at the DPS’s State Fire Marshal Division’s (SFM) Fire Services Training Bureau (FSTB).

Link to report

In April 2016, two (2) FSTB employees were put on paid administrative leave after the State Fire Marshal was made aware of irregularities in the documentation of the scoring of exams for fire service certifications.

The Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation (DCI) conducted a thorough criminal investigation, and criminal charges were filed by the Story County Attorney’s Office on John McPhee, former FSTB Certification and Accreditation Coordinator.  McPhee was charged with Felonious Misconduct in Office, a Class D Felony and Tampering with Records, an aggravated misdemeanor. He turned himself in today at the Story County Sheriff’s Office.

Separate from the criminal investigation, the supervisors in the State Fire Marshal Division conducted a complete internal investigation and found of the 9,231 certifications that were issued from February 2012 through February 2016, 2,278 were issued improperly, which affected 1,706 firefighters and emergency personnel. All certification and accreditation programs are entirely voluntary and are not required by the State of Iowa or nationally. Some local agencies either require or recommend certification of their employees.

Notification is being made to the proper individuals, fire departments and associations across the state that are affected by the improperly scored tests. The FSTB is offering a free training course and free rest retakes for those people whose tests were improperly scored. 

“The Iowa DPS is committed to the highest quality of work.  We strive to maintain the public’s trust, which is why these issues were addressed immediately when they came to my attention.  We are implementing changes in our procedures that are designed to avoid issues in the future," said DPS Commissioner Roxann Ryan. “The Department has implemented additional checks and balances within the FSTB, including random reviews of processes and third-party, off-site scoring to ensure accurate scoring of all testing at our FSTB. The efforts had begun before these incidents were discovered, and we have redoubled our efforts in the past year.”

“We appreciate the dedication, work and support of our fire service partners, especially the Iowa Firefighters Association, Iowa Professional Firefighters Association, Iowa Association of Professional Fire Chiefs, Iowa Fire Chiefs Association and the Iowa Society of Fire Service Instructors, throughout this investigation,” said DPS’s State Fire Marshal Jeff Quigle. “We pledge to provide the highest quality services to these professionals who put their lives on the line to keep Iowans safe, and we look forward to continued cooperation between state and local officials.”

The Iowa Fire Services Training Bureau is part of the State Fire Marshal Division of the Iowa Department of Public Safety. The FSTB provides quality training and education for Iowa’s fire & emergency services through certification, field programs, training conferences and special programs.

The Complaint & Affidavit will need to be obtained through the Story County Clerk of Courts.

John McPhee Booking Photo

Related Press Releases:
June 17, 2016: DCI Investigating Case at Training Bureau

Media Contact: State Fire Marshal Special Agent in Charge, Kyle Gorsh at (515) 208-7616

Note: A criminal charge is merely an accusation and a defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty.

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