New volunteer firefighters to received background checks for sex crimes

ALBANY — Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo last week signed legislation to strengthen the vetting process for volunteer firefighter organizations, requiring applicants to submit to a background check for sex offense convictions.

“Firefighters are often in a position where they serve and protect vulnerable members of their communities – which is why it is imperative that our volunteer firefighter organizations are staffed with highly qualified and dedicated individuals,” Gov. Cuomo said. “By allowing these groups to screen for sexual offenders and remove any individuals who have been convicted of sexual offenses, we are supporting some of our most important local volunteer groups and taking a strong step toward having safer communities across the state.”

The bill will require volunteer firefighters to authorize a background check for sex offense convictions if the individual wishes to proceed with his or her application. The bill would also allow individual fire companies to form policy regarding eligibility of said applicants in the event of a prior conviction.