On another board I'm on there was a discussion about prisoners out west fighting fires. Everyone was saying what a good job they were doing. But we won't let people with felonies in the fire service. Delaware recently passed a law concerning this. If it's okay for hard core prisoners to go out and fight fires why can't someone who made a mistake 5-10-15 years okay and has been clean ever since do it?

Am I the only one with a issue about this?

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I wasn't going to go there WP. I knew somebody would!
Sometimes I just can't help it. I'm sure Jim will understand.
so right , person to person look at each man or woman , and what they have done!
So Bernie Madoff would be acceptable, Charles Manson, not so much?
I gotta agree with the NO Charles Manson thing. Could you picture him on scene weilding a pick head axe? Bernie Madoff just couldn't be in charge of anything financial. LOL

No Felons!
Let me start by saying I came across this forum site and topic due to a google search. The reason I was searching is because I was curious as to firefighting employment for felons. Im sure whoever is reading this has already come to the conclusion that I am a felon and your right. I have mixed feeling on this topic due to the fact that since the age of 16(as a vol junior) I have ate,slept and breathed firefighting/ems.
I dont disagree that as fireman you are held at a hire standard than general population. People trust fireman with their lives and most personal possesions when they are at their most vunerable of states. However I do think people should be given a second chance and thought that way even before my run in with the justice system. I do agree that offenses should be taken into consideration when it comes to putting someone on role with a felony conviction wheather it be a volunteer or career dept. Just because one has made a bad decisions doesnt mean they cant do the job or arent trust worthy. Note I said A.

I saw this post by Eric I believe was the name and completely agree.
"Bottom line is if a covicted felon can not be trusted in society then that convicted felon should still be locked up! I'm a Paramedic and most people don't know I have a felony on my record and I love hearing people tell me they would never be around a felon or they can spot a convicted felon from a mile away. I just laugh to myself and shake my head! I'm not the same person from over 20 years ago! Society needs to let it go!"
However some people do just fake it and weeding out those people is like walking on eggshells. There is a huge risk of giving a person a chance and it coming back on the dept in a negative way. Now my personal opinion is that the hiring of felons in the fire or ems field should be dictated by situation and by the hiring dept and its admin staff. People's background from before and after the offense should play a role in if they are hired or not. Do a more indepth background check, for example letters of reference,education and criminal history. Now I am not saying give career criminals another chance, you cant its to much risk. That said there is a difference in a one time offender and a criminal. Depts cant take a chance giving someone with a long history of bad a chance but perhaps, situation dictated, they can for a one time offender. However then comes political fairness into play and thats can be a very difficult issue to midigate. Just as difficult as say (for example) women in the fire service. Please understand that is just an example and I am in no way saying women shouldnt be. Infact I have worked on several depts that had women and never had any issues with it. They can do the job just like men and felons. If someone can meet the job requirements then they should be given a chance but, Im not referring to only physical requirments. I mean all and if a state says NO FELONS then thats it. No two ways about it. Yea thats a tuff bullet to bite, I speak from first hand experience. My advice would be to those felons that want to work in the service then keep your heads up and seek out the depts and/or states that will give you a chance. Some of you may read this and say well thats easy to say so just to clear any doubts as to what experince Im speaking from, I come from a family of fireman, my wife included. I have worked all over this country as a fireman. I have enjoyed every second of it! I have done everything from instruct,ARFF,WMD,haz-mat and ems. I have done it as both military and civilian. But now have to bite that very bitter bullet due to one poor night of chocies. I as many would take it all back but fact of the matter is you cant and in many places that means I as well as other felons will never enjoy riding a truck,medic,engine or being that helping hand to those in need. I suppose I have said my 2 cents and will close with this. For those non felons maybe try not being so narrow minded and look at it as if you were in those shoes. The same goes for the felons, you must also look at it from their point because both sides bring about good points. And for the record my felony wasnt something I did on purpose or even knew I had done it and was committed at a time in my life where I was suffering from PTSD and drinking way to much and was non violent and didnt hurt anyone. If anyone would like to discuss that further or their own situations then just shoot me a message. Like wise any of you guys that do work the job for dept as felons I'd love to hear form you and pick your brains.

I'm not here to give an opinion.. just to pass on some interesting info. I recently was meeting with a detective of a Texas sheriff's ofc. He was telling me that they had problems with a vol ff..due to his felony background upon telling the Chief that he had to release this guy from the dept, the Chief told them that was not their concern and he was keeping the guy.The sheriff's off.came back and told him that he would or else be shut down...How is this possible?? The sheriff claimed that as the Fire department received Federal funding, they must comply with their guidelines... The Chief complied immediately.

There are several questions that should be answered first:

1. Why were you meeting with a detective?

2. Why was he telling you about a personnel issue within the dept?

3. Who told the chief, you or the detective?

4. Was a background check done prior to this individual becoming a member of the dept?

5. What kind of federal funding was received?

6. What is the standard method of funding the dept? (tax based, fundraising, seperate entitiy)


Quite frankly there is probably more to this issue than a simplistic answer you are seeking. In some places law enforcement may have a significant say on funding etc. I know of a place where the law enforcement operates the EMS aspect as opposed to the fire dept. Funding for things like HAZMAT and USAR in this state is handled by the state Dept of Justice, an arm of LE. So there may be rules in place depending on how the dept and funding is comprised etc. There may be an aspect that a background check should be done and wasn't. There are just too many variables to give you a definitive answer you are seeking.


Apparently you didn't quite get my message...first I'm not seeking any answer...personally I have no worries...my background is clean.

Secondly, my meeting had nothing to do with fire departments...I'm an Investigator and we have a mutual criminal case.

This was not my department.  It was not a personnel issue within the department that he shared..it was only general information that is actually public knowlege...I didn't even ask what department or who it was...As I said, I was just passing on some information that was shared with me that I found interesting.

No Kim, I did not quite get your message, hence the reason for asking questions. However, you were seeking an answer if you posed the question "How is this possible??" of which more information is needed in order to be able to get a better answer to your question.


I don't care about your background, I was asking about the person with a felony background and if a check was done prior to the person becoming a member. If a dept is to do a background check and doesn't, then it leads to more questions. If a dept did do a check and the person was clean, then the crime occurred after they were a member. If they did a check and the criminal record was there, it leads to questioning the judgement call of the dept and their reasoning for taking the person.


I question as to why you are speaking with a detective because I have no clue as to your involvement with the dept and as to why you are asking the question. It seems odd that a member of a dept would be talking with a detective on an issue that should be going to the chief in the first place. You did not make it clear that you were not a member of the dept which leads to some confusion and this clears things up more.


In the end there is still going to be variables that make the determination as to "how is this possible?" in order to give a definitive answer. Again how the dept is set up, funded, why they are getting federal grants, background checks etc, all play a part.

These guys or girls are not in the Fire Service persay,

They are a inmate crew of guys or girls who are a low securiity risk. They have a probation officer with them can be locked up and sent back to prison in a heart beat.

They have nothing to do with the fire service other than they are trained by and lead by a Firefighter when they are sent out on a wildland fire.

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