They're first responders, but the public might be surprised to know that some of them have criminal pasts.
NBC 30 News found that a high-ranking member of the Coventry, Conn., Volunteer Fire Association was a firefighter when he was convicted in 1985 of having sex with a minor.
Assistant Chief Joe Carilli was 24 years old. The minor was just 14.
Carilli was terminated from the department and spent time in prison.
Two years after he was released, however, he applied to the department and stated on his application that the reason he left the department was personal. A criminal background check was never done.
Carilli declined an interview, but said in a phone interview with NBC 30 News that he regrets what happened 22 years ago and that he has changed his life to become an upstanding person in the community.
NBC 30 also found another high-ranking official with a criminal past in the same department.
In 1992, Rick Landry, a 17-year-old firefighter at the time, called in a phony bomb scare. He was charged with making a false police report and took a plea deal, but was not only allowed to stay on the force -- but is now the deputy chief.
Landry also declined an on camera interview, but said in a phone interview that what he did was a mistake. He said that since then he has worked hard to earn several firefighter awards.
The Coventry Fire Association, like many other fire departments across the state, is a private organization and the town has no say in who joins. The president of the association said that the department has just started doing background checks on new volunteers.
NBC 30 investigated and found more than a dozen fire departments across the state that do not check the criminal history of their members. Most said that it was too expensive at $25 for each check.
But soon, everyone's criminal history may be just a click away. Some lawmakers are going as far as pushing a bill that would allow anyone to conduct a background check at no cost.
For the complete story on Firefighter Felons , please view the video.
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