2 Austin firefighters fired for cheating on hazmat training exam
Firefighters Nicholas Schroeder and Anthony Stewart admitted to obtaining and taking pictures of the hazmat training exam
By Mark D. Wilson
AUSTIN — Two Austin firefighters were fired last week after stealing and photographing a final exam for a hazardous materials training class, according to a disciplinary memo filed last week.
Firefighters Nicholas Schroeder and Anthony Stewart, both members of the special operations division, attended the training for two weeks in April, the memo said. The course is a requirement to remain in special operations, which comes with a $150 monthly stipend, the memo said.
On April 18, the day before the exam was to be administered, one of the instructors noticed a copy of the final exam lying on a table outside of a box where he kept the course materials.
The instructor asked his colleagues if anyone accessed the exam, then turned to the students, but no one came forward.
When class was dismissed for the day, Schroeder and Stewart approached the instructor and told him they had accessed the exam, and taken photos of it.
Both were removed from the class.
Schroeder told Austin fire investigators he was initially looking through course materials for study questions when he saw the exam and took it, the memo said. He walked back to his desk and tossed the document to Stewart to take pictures, according to the report. The memo said Stewart told investigators he threw the test back on the table as instructors were returning to the room, but deleted the photos "when it became apparent the instructors knew someone had accessed a copy of the exam."
"The actions of both firefighters are nothing less than theft and an attempt to cheat on an examination, which allowed them to remain in special operations and continue to receive the special operations pay," the memo said.
Both firefighters have about a week left to appeal their indefinite suspensions.
"Their lack of integrity is a disappointment to us all," the memo said. "This indefinite suspension should serve as notice and precedent to all members of the Austin Fire Department that actions such as these will not be tolerated and will be punished to the fullest extent allowed."
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