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  • Your Opinions are needed!

    Dear Firehouse community,

    Before you go and shoot down this thread, I have searched and found somewhat related but also not related posts/threads. I am simply here on a FACT finding mission and none other so please hear me out!

    I want everyone's personal opinion on the below topic:

    Should Felons like myself be allowed to become Volunteer Fire Fighters within the community in which they live?

    NOW before everyone starts with the OMG GO TO HELL posts please keep readin!

    I am not saying EVERY felon should be allowed the chance to serve in such a dignified position as that of a Fireman, But as I see it anyone who has been convicted of a Violent Felony, Sexual related Felony, or Arson related Felony or has multiple felonys within a 25 year time frame should automatically be disqualified from ANY public service position.

    Now on the contrary, I believe that any Felon convicted of a NON-Violent, NON-Sexual Related and NON-Arson related charge and not a repeat offender should be allowed the oppourtunity to serve their community.

    Now please dont get bored and run off just yet, Keep going I have faith in you!

    A little about why this issue is important to me:

    My name is Andrew and I am 22 Years Old, When I was 17 I came home from work to find my mother on the couch not breathing, At the time I was not trained in CPR/First Aid and went into a complete state of WTF do I do, My first reaction was to Call 911, and then I ran to my neighbor to alert him (Previous Air Force, Trained in CPR).

    He came over and began CPR on my mother, However it took the first emergency unit 6 minutes to arrive on scene, That unit was a police officer, Unequipped with any life saving equipment, 3 Minutes later a police officer with a AED arrived on scene, 4 Minutes later the first Fire Dept units arrived, and 6 Minutes after that the Ambulance showed up, Now I know alot of you are thinking Volunteer? No it was all Career Fire Dept and EMS, Big City? No it was a small town of less than 8K people and less than 2.2 miles in diamater, But how come the response time was in excess of 10 minutes when I lived less than a mile from both the Fire Dept and Ambulance barns? GOOD QUESTION!

    I have never been able to get an answer to this. Even after the first police unit arrived an advised dispatch to expedite the emergency personal it still took to long, My mother died that night at 39 years old. Now about why this issue is important to me! I have wanted to be a fire fighter since I was about 2 years old, I didnt want to be a police officer, astronaut, or architect, but a Fire Fighter, I owned a new copy of backdraft every 6 months as I would watch it so much it would become worn out.

    Well shortly after my mothers death I became very depressed & lonely (No father figure for my entire life so mom was all i had) lost my job and bills were stacking up, One thing I had learned was ALOT about computers and how they worked, So not even thinking I coded my own algorithim to generate random credit card #'s which I then used to purchase items off the internet which I would then resell for bill $$$, I stopped shortly before turning 18 as I knew what I had done was illegal and didnt want to face the possible legal issues, However my local PD unbenounced to me had started investigating what I had done through a tip, and shortly after i turned 18 I was asked to go in for questioning, I confessed to them what I had done and figured since I was a minor when I did the crimes it would not affect me (Boy was I wrong!) I spent 36 days in county jail before seeing the judge, I plead guilty to a Class C Felony for Theft (Total $$ value over $500 but less than $25000) and a Class D Felony of Attempt Theft by Deceit (Basically stealing through lieing).

    I was issued a 5 Year deferred/Imposition of Sentence (After 5 years my record is wiped clean!) and supervised probation, I have since served 3.5 Years of this supervised probation and have 1.5 Left, I have not done any thing since then and have stayed out of trouble, I work a steady 40/Hr a week job and have attended T4C (Thinking 4 a Change) classes hosted by probation and parole which last 18 weeks and graduated with no problems. My question is would YOU/YOUR DEPARTMENT allow someone like ME the chance to become a Volunteer with your department? I dont care if that meant i would have to roll hose and scrub toilets for 12 months until I was trusted, I just want to give back to my community and do something I know I want to do in the process. I dont have the wish to run into a house where someone is having breathing troubles with the intention of stealing a ring or some BS like that, I want to help them and get them better, I want to be able to run into their house to pull them out should it be on fire.

    I would gladly give my life to save that of another human being, It doesnt have to be in a fire, It could be at a bank thats being robbed, a hostage sitaution, If I can save another humans life and allow them to go on living that would be the greatest reward PERIOD! I would love to grow old and have a wonderful life, but if the time came where it was me or another person, I would gladly give my life for them to live!

    So please just answer me this question:

    Would you allow me to volunteer with your department.

    If you have made it this far without completely destroying your keyboard by beating it with your face out of utter boredem I thank you for your time.

    Sincerely,
    Andrew S.
    Cheyenne, WY
    28
    I would say Hell No!
    57.14%
    16
    I would give you a Shot!
    42.86%
    12

  • #2
    Welcome to the forums. Quite an interesting first post.

    First, my sympathy on the loss of your mother, I'm sure that's still very hard for you.

    Now, as for the rest of your post. First, without knowing the history, location, etc of the local fire department and ambulance service, it's hard to for any of us to know why it might have taken six minutes for the first law enforcement officer to arrive, or 12 for the fire department to arrive. Were there traffic issues? Could they have been clearing from another call? Do they protect an area larger then the 2.2 square mile town limits? Was the ambulance clearing from the hospital? Just some things that go through my head.

    Anyway, moving on to the application process. While the past four years since your conviction has probably seemed like an eternity for you, to us, it's only been four years. And quite honestly, four years for two felony charges isn't a long time. Now, you make a point that a felony computer charge isn't the same as a sex crime, and you're right. However, the public puts a large amount of trust in us, and like it or not, the four year time period probably isn't enough to the members of the local department to feel like you still have the ability to be trusted.

    As a member of the FD, you're given access to people's homes, personal effects, private information, and other such things. That's going to be in the forefront of the department's mind as they review your application, and will work against you.

    To be honest, I'd probably wait those additional 1.5 years before you apply. But keep this in mind -- when you apply, you'll still be asked if you've ever been convicted of a felony, and you'll still have to answer honestly, whether your record is "clean" or not.

    Best of luck....
    Career Fire Captain
    Volunteer Chief Officer


    Never taking for granted that I'm privileged enough to have the greatest job in the world!

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by BoxAlarm187 View Post
      Welcome to the forums. Quite an interesting first post.

      First, my sympathy on the loss of your mother, I'm sure that's still very hard for you.

      Now, as for the rest of your post. First, without knowing the history, location, etc of the local fire department and ambulance service, it's hard to for any of us to know why it might have taken six minutes for the first law enforcement officer to arrive, or 12 for the fire department to arrive. Were there traffic issues? Could they have been clearing from another call? Do they protect an area larger then the 2.2 square mile town limits? Was the ambulance clearing from the hospital? Just some things that go through my head.

      Anyway, moving on to the application process. While the past four years since your conviction has probably seemed like an eternity for you, to us, it's only been four years. And quite honestly, four years for two felony charges isn't a long time. Now, you make a point that a felony computer charge isn't the same as a sex crime, and you're right. However, the public puts a large amount of trust in us, and like it or not, the four year time period probably isn't enough to the members of the local department to feel like you still have the ability to be trusted.

      As a member of the FD, you're given access to people's homes, personal effects, private information, and other such things. That's going to be in the forefront of the department's mind as they review your application, and will work against you.

      To be honest, I'd probably wait those additional 1.5 years before you apply. But keep this in mind -- when you apply, you'll still be asked if you've ever been convicted of a felony, and you'll still have to answer honestly, whether your record is "clean" or not.

      Best of luck....
      First off thanks for your honesty!

      2nd. The night she passed away it was around 11:12pm when I called, Small town so not alot of traffic, There is always a minimum of 2 Ambulances fully staffed at the ambulance barn, However the ambulance does server the entire county so not sure if they were on calls or not. However the fire dept does not serve anything outside of its city limits and has a crew of 8 people at the station at all times. So as for why it took them in excess of 10 minutes to respond is unclear to me.

      I understand your point of view on the time frame issue and yes it has been an eternity for me, However I think that if the Felon in question is able to say obtain a decent amount of support out of his community to allow him to volunteer would that at all help? As stated above I would be happy cleaning the fire house and rolling hose for a year if it would go to prove that I wanted it bad enough, People do change and I would love to be able to prove that however Thus the reason I am here I really value the input of current Fire Fighters on this situation!

      P.S Box:

      Nice roto-ray avatar
      Last edited by astanford10; 11-09-2010, 05:49 PM. Reason: P.S. :P

      Comment


      • #4
        Honest answere

        I think BoxAlarm187 said it very well and diplomatically.

        Comment


        • #5
          1. Sorry for the loss of your mother.
          2. Response to the call is irrelevant to the question.
          3. At the time of applying to us, a few background checks are done. If the felony conviction appears, the process would stop there. If it doesn't, the process would continue. And that includes interviews with references you give us. If nothing bad/discouraging turns up, you would continue in the process.
          "This thread is being closed as it is off-topic and not related to the fire industry." - Isn't that what the Off Duty forum was for?

          Comment


          • #6
            You can apply if you want but I would advise against it.

            First thing you need to understand, firefighting positions are highly sought after, expecially in today's economy. I do not believe you would stand a chance with a felony on your record.

            Second, try a volunteer station in or around your area. Talk with the Chief and be upfront with him. Unless he is overflowing with people on staff he may give you a shot with limitations.

            Next, if the felony is expunged from your record you do not need to report that on any application. That is the purpose for expungement. They, the court system, putting that possibility onto your penalty leads me to believe that the judge knew you had a chance to be a good citizen. Check with the courts on that when the probation is up.
            Last edited by BSFD9302; 11-10-2010, 10:13 AM.

            Comment


            • #7
              I agree with box-alarm in that you should wait the remaining 1.5 years. Then you need to follow through with making sure your record is cleared.

              Part of the punishment for serious crimes is having a record for the rest of your life. As previously stated, the judge in your case obviously felt a permanent record for you would be unnecessary.

              Now, if there is no record of your crime are you required to disclose it in an application if it specifically asks?? Applications usually ask if you've been convicted, not if there is a record of it. I don't have an answer other than if you deny having a record and it later becomes known that you are a felon it makes you look very bad. Just because there's no record of it doesn't mean that it didn't happen and it may come up someday. Best to disclose it up front rather than have it come up later.

              In our volly dept. being a convicted felon doesn't automatically disqualify you but definately warrants deeper investigation. Generally a new recruit needs 2 current members to 'sponsor' them and vouch for their integrity before they are considered.

              A paid position would likely be very difficult to acquire as a felony conviction would at least automatically put you at the back of the hiring line if not disqualify you.

              Anyhow, good luck in your persuit and hats off to you for wanting to volunteer.
              Last edited by Blulakr; 11-10-2010, 02:02 PM.
              My wise and profound comments and opinions are mine alone and are in no way associated with any other individual or group.

              Comment


              • #8
                Keep in mind this fact, just because you may have to wait for expungement, it does not mean you are limited in learning. If there are fire science or district classes available, you can start learning now. Educate yourself if you are sincerely interested. Start with the local or college library. There are books on general firefighting like the IFSTA Essentials of Firefighting or Jones and Bartlett's Elements of Firefighting(?) or Pennwell's (fire engineering) Handbook for Firefighter I/II (?). Read, research online and immerse yourself in the information you can find. THIS WILL NOT MAKE YOU A FIREFIGHTER, but it will help give you an understanding of where training will lead you. Most of all, sit back and listen when you are around firefighters.
                Last edited by Fireeaterbob; 11-10-2010, 04:49 PM. Reason: Additions.
                A coward stands by and watches wrongs committed without saying a word...Any opinions expressed are purely my own and not necessarily reflective of the views of my former departments

                Comment


                • #9
                  Ok bunch of questions from ya guys, So here are some answers:

                  @ BSFD - I meant the questions above to be directed towards Volunteer departments but I welcome the opinions of all members, I know Career is out of the question until the felony's are gone.

                  @ Blulakr - Their is a record however the state of Wyoming where I currently live allow's you to mark No to a Felony if you have a Defferred or ISS like I have, HOWEVER I feel this is highly unprofessional to do as 1. It will come out anyway and 2. It sets me up for a fall, Once they run the background check I am back @ square 1.

                  @Fireeaterbob - I am already pursuing this route, I have signed up for Spring classes @ the local Community College where they offer courses in Fire Fighting.


                  Also I know my current job situation should help some with trust issues as I work in a distribution center for an Online store, I personally box and handle in excess of $100k in merchandise per week and have never stolen a thing, I think if I was still a bad apple dont you think I would steal from work? I know alot of people have bad representations of Felons due to the ones out there who make a bad name for us, However their are good ones out there whom only made that 1 bad mistake, In my case I was given 2 Felonys for 1 thing which sucks :S, I even tried to join the military last year when they were accepting felons! However the recruiter who was handling my paperwork went on vacation and when he came back to finish it they were no longer accepting any felons so that screwed me their. Anyhoot I dont want any of you to think I am making excuses because I am not, I know what I did was wrong, I know as a Felon life is that much harder, However after all of the research I have done, And the many polls and surveys I have conducted using similar forums with the public has gave me promising results, In my endeavor to meet my goal I have found that more than 50% of the people who took my surveys and polls all said they would be fine with a felon as a fire fighter, Simply because they would be happy he was there to help them. Now as stated above I dont think allowing every felon to become a fire fighter is a smart idea, But I dont think it would hurt either to start some Pilot programs within some departments and give the idea a wirl, It would be easy to find candidates just check with the local Probation and Parole offices to see which offenders they feel would best work out in the job. As stated before I dont expect if I am to be accepted on any volunteer department to be allowed to run any calls until all members of the department feel I have earned their trust which to me could take 8-12 months, I would be just happy doing training and washing trucks if that is what it would take!

                  Thanks again for the comments, please keep them coming, if you have a question for me I will be glad to answer it.

                  Also it doesnt matter if you are Career, Volunteer, or Retired your opinion counts so please dont hesitate to vote and reply to this thread!

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    No, you are a thief. Plain and simple.
                    Stay Safe
                    Bull


                    “Guys if you get hurt, we’ll help you. If you get sick we’ll treat you. If you want to bitch and moan, then all I can tell you is to flick the sand out of your slit, suck it up or get the hell out!”
                    - Capt. Marc Cox CFD

                    Nothing in life is so exhilarating as to be shot at without result.
                    -WINSTON CHURCHILL

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      You could try but you may be told No. My department is a large combination and no felons are needed.

                      Too bad you wasn't thinking when you committed the crime.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by BULL321 View Post
                        No, you are a thief. Plain and simple.
                        What he said. Sorry! Once a thief, always a thief.
                        "Loyalty Above all Else. Except Honor."

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by FWDbuff View Post
                          Once a thief, always a thief.
                          Seems like quite a generality to make...
                          Career Fire Captain
                          Volunteer Chief Officer


                          Never taking for granted that I'm privileged enough to have the greatest job in the world!

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by BoxAlarm187 View Post
                            Seems like quite a generality to make...
                            You can build a thousand bridges, but if you suck one [censored], they don't call you a bridge builder...
                            Opinions expressed are mine alone, and do not necessarily reflect those of the Philadelphia Fire Department and/or IAFF Local 22.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by astanford10 View Post
                              Should Felons like myself be allowed to become Volunteer Fire Fighters within the community in which they live?
                              No.

                              Now on the contrary, I believe that any Felon convicted of a NON-Violent, NON-Sexual Related and NON-Arson related charge and not a repeat offender should be allowed the oppourtunity to serve their community.
                              I can understand your thought process, however I think you may be missing something. The relationship between the public and the fire department is one built on trust. They trust us to come into their homes and take care of their "emergency" regardless of whatever it is. In doing so, they trust us not to steal from them while doing so. They trust us not to create the "emergency" (i.e. arson). They expect us to be honest.

                              You've already been convicted of two of these three things - lying and stealing. Do you really think you're worthy of the public's trust as a public safety official?

                              There are a number of other ways that you could still serve your community.
                              Last edited by FireMedic049; 11-11-2010, 12:09 AM.

                              Comment

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