Alarming number of DC Fire cadets fail out — and a few cheated

Nearly half the D.C. Fire and EMS’ biggest-ever class of cadets won’t graduate, because they failed part of the program. Plus, three of those who failed were later found to have cheated.

The group of trainees, known as Cadet Class 24, began a yearlong training program in November 2021. The class of 32 cadets was the largest in the program’s history, according to D.C. Fire and EMS.

But last month, 14 of those cadets were academically eliminated from the program because they failed the Emergency Medical Technician final twice.

In a statement, D.C. Fire and EMS spokeswoman Jennifer Donelan called the outcome “extremely disappointing,” because the training program had been changed in an effort to increase the cadets’ academic success.

More instructors were added to lower teacher-student ratios, class time was extended from 12 weeks to 20 weeks, the time between tests was increased to allow cadets more time to study and tutoring and life-coaching were provided.

Donelan said there also was an investigation into “possible integrity issues” that was completed after those 14 cadets tested out. The report, finalized last week, found three of those 14 cadets had cheated.

“There were insufficient facts to determine if the testing process was violated by the other members of the class,” Donelan said.

The remaining members of Cadet Class 24 are continuing their studies and graduation is set for September.

D.C.’s Cadet Program provides training to city residents who are between 18 and 21. According to the city, the training gives cadets the skills to be an emergency medical technician and a firefighter. New firefighter EMT recruits earn a starting salary of just over $55,000.

Michelle Basch

Michelle Basch is a reporter turned morning anchor at WTOP News.

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