NEWPORT, R.I. (WPRI) – A shocking federal investigation has uncovered that some employees of Naval Station Newport deliberately falsified training records for emergency personnel.
The report that was delivered to President Donald Trump Tuesday alleges that nearly all of the station’s 29 fire and emergency services employees did not take part in all required training.
Documents show many trainings were reported as being completed on Sundays even though no training exercises are performed on Sundays. Others showed employees completed trainings on days they weren’t even at work.
Of the nearly 9,000 records reviewed during the investigation, more than 7,000 did not have an instructor listed as having taught the course.
A now-retired employee interviewed by investigators said he was forced to sign-off on training sessions he did not attend. If he refused, he says the fire chief would yell or threaten him.
That employee claimed that records were falsified as much as 90 percent of the time.
In the wake of the shocking findings, the inspector general has ordered several changes be made, beginning with a review to see if any other employees involved with the falsified records are still employed by the naval station.
The fire chief retired last year and the Newport fire training officer “separated from employment” in March 2017.
The inspector general also called for a complete overhaul of the record-keeping system, which will require frequent audits of training records. A yearly proficiency training will be required for all emergency employees.
The policy changes will go into effect across all naval stations.
The investigation was ordered after Naval Station Newport firefighter and paramedic George Haywood noticed he was marked present for training sessions he never attended.
“I have reviewed this report, and as the whistleblower, I am satisfied with the content and scope of the Investigation,” Haywood wrote in a letter to the President dated July 6, 2017. “I am grateful for an unbiased and thorough investigation by the CNIC IG team that assisted me with correcting these circumstances that could have been even more detrimental to the employees, their families, and the general public had this investigation not been conducted or adequately addressed the issues of my complaint.”
In another letter sent to President Trump on April 24, 2018, Special Counsel Henry Kerner said the investigation is now closed.
Navy Region Mid-Atlantic spokesperson Beth Baker released a statement Wednesday evening in response to the investigation:
“Some training program and records management deficiencies were identified during a Naval Inspector General’s investigation which was completed in June 2017. These findings centered on incomplete or inaccurate records associated with maintaining Newport’s Fire and Emergency Services training records. The problems noted by the Navy Inspector General and Office of Special Counsel were promptly corrected and additional training-records oversight was implemented immediately.
Naval Station Newport Fire and Emergency Services were awarded the status of Accredited Agency by the Commission on Fire Accreditation International in 2017.
To date this calendar year, Newport’s Fire and Emergency Services responded to over 300 emergency calls, participated in numerous emergency-response exercises and earned two Navy Installations Command lifesaving awards.
Naval Station Newport is committed to improvement through continuous self-assessment and will continue to ensure the highest caliber protocol and practices are in place for Fire and Emergency Services personnel.”