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  1. #1
    Sr. Information Officer NJFFSA16's Avatar
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    Thumbs down One bad apple can spoil....

    I hesitated to post this, however I find it very disturbing. DID THEY NOT perform a background check on this individual? Any person having an arson conviction....certainly is not a good candidate for the fire service. Fire departments MUST conduct background checks. This is just unacceptable. As I think you might agree...IT MAKES US ALL LOOK BAD!

    Volunteer firefighter charged with setting 10 fires

    (Hudson-AP) -- A volunteer firefighter is charged with ten
    counts of arson today for allegedly setting fire to abandoned
    houses, junkyards and fields in western Wisconsin.
    Authorities say Richard Hassel even responded to some of the
    fires he set as a volunteer with the New Richmond fire department.
    Tonight, he's being held in the St. Croix (kroy) County Jail.
    Authorities say they obtained a court order and put a tracking
    device on Hassel's vehicle when he came under suspicion. After
    another deliberately-set house fire, they removed the device to
    examine Hassel's activities. St. Croix County sheriff Dennis
    Hillstead says they tracked his vehicle right to the burned house.
    Authorities say Hassel has two arson convictions in Minnesota in
    1991 and 1999.

    (Copyright 2002 by The Associated Press

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  2. #2
    Forum Member fflynn17's Avatar
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    In NY, we are required to run a New York State Arson Check before we accept anyone in the volunteer company. I do not know if this would catch an arson conviction in another state. This may have been the problem with this individual.

    I am not in law enforcement, but I would hope that there would be some sort of national database that could be accessed by the proper officials in an attempt to stop this type of person from joining a fire company.

    I know that this would kick up the issue of privacy, but I believe that once you have been convicted of a felony, you have given up the right to privacy enjoyed by non-felons.

    This type of problem is a major black eye to firefighting because all the public sees is the idiot setting fires, not the hundreds who don't.
    9/11/01 Never forget Never forgive

    Dusty, working on Crusty IACOJ

  3. #3
    MembersZone Subscriber ramseycl's Avatar
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    Our department requires all volunteers to have a background check. This involves contacting the local police and having them run a criminal history on the person. Working in dispatch we run these histories for the officers. They show all felony and misdemeanor charges for all 50 states. If the person is charged with the crime, they do not have to be convicted for it to show up. It will show the outcome of the case.

  4. #4
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    I am not in law enforcement, but I would hope that there would be some sort of national database that could be accessed by the proper officials in an attempt to stop this type of person from joining a fire company.
    There is no national data base at this time. There have been attempts to start one through the ATF and the USFA, but, as far as I know, the funding is not there.

    I know that this would kick up the issue of privacy, but I believe that once you have been convicted of a felony, you have given up the right to privacy enjoyed by non-felons.
    Screw privacy. You should be required to sign a discolusre agreement when you apply. If you don't want to give up your background, don't join.

    I don't have the energy to get back into this subject again. The NVFC has not answered my inquiries from the last time. This will continue to be a problem as long as the volunteer fire service allows it to be a problem.

  5. #5
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    In NY we do runn history checks on all aplicants to the fire service. This check is done by the local Sheriff and checks the Nationwide Database through NCIC & DCJS for previous arson convictions. Regardless of when and where it happened, that check will uncover it.

  6. #6
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    I should not have said it would definetley uncover a history of arson conviction. We are just finding out in my county that an individual who was convicted as a juvenile has since joined another fire company. Juvenile records are sealed, therefore we were not aware of the history with this individual.

  7. #7
    MembersZone Subscriber
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    Angry

    Yeah, just what everyone needs an arsonist as a firefighter. From the little I know of the situation (all second hand), New Richmond FDís policy is to do a criminal background check on new applicants. In this case, either a request was not made to the New Richmond Police or the FD did not get an answer. New Richmond FD and the city of New Richmond are trying to figure out who dropped the ball on this one. They did have a procedure in place that should have weeded this guy out. Sorry that is all I know of the situation, and I have not talked to any of the NR firefighters since this took place.
    Jeff Drais
    Saint Stephen Fire & Rescue
    Saint Stephen MN

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