State Audit Says Firefighter Training Council Operations 'Not Effective Or Efficient'

Friday, June 17th 2016, 6:01 pm

The Council on Firefighter Training was set up by the legislature in 2004 to identify training needs for firefighters and to make sure that firefighters statewide have consistent training.

But a state audit shows the council spends seven times more than the money keeping its doors open, than it does on actually fulfilling its mission.

According to the audit, “The Council on Firefighter Training operations were not effective or efficient overall and, in many cases, appeared to be unreasonable and inconsistent with their statutory responsibilities.”

“Well it's straight and to the point. We try to do that,” said State Auditor Gary Jones.

Jones said the council seems to have little oversight. “It's a pass through where money comes from the fire marshal's office, goes through this council, and then ultimately from that point in time it's not really under state control.”

The result, Jones said, the council spends 57-percent of its budget on personnel; another 17.4-percent on office operations and a mere 11.5-percent actually performing the duties it was set up to perform. 

In short, Jones said, the council is a bureaucracy set up primarily just to exist. 

"Absolutely. Absolutely. And we don't think it's the function of government to just exist. You know they need to accomplish a mission,” said Jones. "Basically you have an organization that performs a small function that could be performed by somebody else."

The audit recommends that the council on firefighter training merges with the OSU Division of Fire Service Training. 

Council Interim Executive Director Chris Neal said there are "some critical issues" identified in the audit and that the board is "serious about addressing them."  

Neal said he plans to set up a meeting with the board as soon as possible to discuss the audit.