The Boise Fire Department has begun taking steps to correct the problem, including a software update for the system that keeps track of training hours and retraining firefighters on how to record their hours.
"We are a well-trained, well-equipped fire department," Fire Chief Dennis Doan said. "We could improve our record-keeping and we're going to take every step to do that."
The Boise Office of Internal Audit released a report March 21 that found questionable entries in the training records for 25 firefighters in a random sample of 45. The fire department has a staff of between 250 and 265 firefighters who need to reach certain training benchmarks to meet national standards.
Auditors gave the fire department's training division a "needs improvement" grade, the second lowest on its scale.
That's a serious problem, Chief Doan said. The good news, he said, is that it's record-keeping, not training itself, that needs improvement.
In many cases between Oct. 1, 2009 and July 16, 2012 - the period the audit covers - Boise's firefighters logged more than 24 hours of training in a single day. The reason is that they routinely attended multiple-day training sessions and later recorded all of the training hours on one day, Doan said.
In other instances, multiple officers within the department recorded the same training hours for the same firefighter. According to the audit report, the fire department responded by designating one person to document completed training.
Doan said the department has worked in recent months to streamline training codes that record the type of training firefighters participate in. The audit report suggested the vast number of training codes - some 1,800 - led to errors in recording training time.
Complicating the fire department's effort to rework its system is the coming departure of Deputy Chief of Training Tracy Raynor, who is retiring this month after 30 years with the department. Doan said he expects to advertise the opening nationally in the next week or two.
Sven Berg: 377-6275