Fire volunteers may now be screened for sex offenses


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— Would-be volunteer firefighters throughout New York State may be subjected to a background check for sex offense convictions, according to a new law recently signed by Gov. Cuomo.

The law also allows individual fire companies to determine whether the applicant is eligible to become a volunteer if a sex offense is found.

“Volunteer fire department personnel should have all the means necessary to keep convicted sex offenders from becoming volunteers and remove any who presently serve,” said state Senator John Bonacic, who sponsored the law. “Oftentimes, volunteer firefighters are in situations where children and families are present, whether in the actions of a fire or medical emergency, but they also take part in community and school events. This will give those that approve new volunteer firefighters the support they need. I thank Governor Cuomo for signing this common sense measure into law.”

The bill also allows departments to screen current volunteers for sexual offense convictions, to terminate any with a conviction for sexual offenses, and shield municipalities with volunteer fire departments from potential lawsuits from such convicted sex offender volunteers.

To see the full text of the law, visit open.nysenate.gov/legislation/bill/S1885C-2013.

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