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FIrefighter arsonists - a disgrace

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  • George Wendt, CFI
    replied
    You are not reading Mike. My post clearly states that my FD does not do a good job of following the statutes that no name set forth. I think you also better be sure that your PD is using the the NLETS and CCH systems properly in conducting applicant checks. Nothing beats getting out and talking to the people that the applicant puts down on the application.

    The reasons that applicants have been rejected for in the past include; physical fitness (not passing the physical). Past criminal convictions. Known substance abuse and association with a criminal element. Maybe they don't fit a broad interpretation of the law, but I would say again that the NJ legislature never intended for FD's to be forced to put on people who would bring disrepute to the organization. Remembering that I said that the overwhelming majority of applicants are accepted, we have never been challenged.

    BTW, There is no widespread FF arson problem in Flanders, NJ. Those arrests were made during the past 16 years as a Detective with the Morris County Prosecutor's Office Arson Unit.

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  • mpeltier
    replied
    Everyone here seems to pick on the vollie. Everyone seems to forget that paid guys have been popped for the same thing. I think the biggest one I remember was John Orr I think thats spelled correctly) in southern CA. He worked for LA as an arson investigator and he killed a couple of people if I remember correctly. All public saftey sevices (police, fire and ems) need higher standards in some places. If these guys are guilty then they are dirt bags to say the least, not firefighters, voiilie or otherwise. Stay safe

    Leave a comment:


  • MikeHunt
    replied
    George,
    I was unaware of the excessive firefighter arson problem in the Flanders area. And yes, you are correct, the FBI backround check is just a fingerprint check. The only other check that is made is the check done by the PD. (NCIC and local record)

    Again, what is your procedure for accepting and reviewing applications? What grounds do you reject applicants on?

    Leave a comment:


  • firefightermatt_69
    replied
    First of all I want to say that these people were young and so they were used to the image a firefighter get on TV(ya know hoping of the truck and running into a building w/ only his turnout gear on and no whose so he can rescue someone.)Now I am NOT trying to take up for them, I also dont think they are firefighters. I would also like to say that I am from Loisiana and have grown up arounfd firefighting my whole life, and I have never heard of anyone wanting to go set a fire because they werent getting any, if anything they were happy because none was loosing their home. I think these folks are a disgrace to all La firefighters,and all vollies,and that all I have to say about that.

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  • Brian Dunlap
    replied
    These people are not Firefighters as others have said. They are nothing more than worthless criminals that get the glory out of riding "Big-Red" and Stomping out the Fire that they created. Real Bright...Yet in the end Our Justice System gives them 3 Hots and a Cot and says they are troubled individuals that need extensive counseling. Where does this money come from ? You and I the decent, Hard Working Folks from this great nation. Again Volunteers will get a bad name in the public eye all because These Morons had nothing better to do with thier spare time

    Leave a comment:


  • George Wendt, CFI
    replied
    Mike, I am a full-time public fire investigator with 17 years experience. I am also a 24 year vol. FF. My agency has arrested 34 vol. FF for arson during my career. This is a subject that is important to me. I speak from experience.

    What is an FBI Investigation Report? An FBI Agent completes an Investigation Report and I'm pretty sure they are too busy these days to complete background checks on FF. If you mean the return after a fingerprint check, that is hardly a background check. A background check includes a credit check, a psychiatric history check, a driver's license check, neighbor/employer.reference interviews, etc. That is the ONLY way to paint a complete picture of a person's background. You have a person sign a release for this information at the time of the application.

    Does my FD do this? Absolutely not and they never will. Neither does most FD's. Why? Because it is too difficult, time consuming or complicated for them to do. Many departments take any warm body off the street in order to fill their ranks.

    That is also the reason that the FF Arson problem is largely ignored by the fire service. Many FD's enjoy the action. I have old war stories from one of the departments in my jurisdiction where you weren't allowed to become a member until you set a building on fire.

    This problem will not go away until the vol. fire service gets serious about candidate selection.

    Leave a comment:


  • MikeHunt
    replied
    George,

    I am the last person that you will find that follows everything to the letter of the law, but I feel that the greatest strength of the United States is equal rights for all. Remember that there are people that volunteer at thousands of Departments around the country. Out of those volunteers that have made mistakes to, but never got caught, and are currently firemen.

    I guess that if you offered your application criteria I would understand more completely what you are trying to do. What are the reasons for rejection? Do you follow the rules that have been adopted by our State when rejecting applicants?

    The first step by me is to have each applicant fill out an FBI investigation report. Then we have the Chief of Police review the Report from the FBI and a local background investigation. The Chief of Police makes his recommendation to the Fire Chief. The Fire Chief is not required to follow the recommendation of the Police Chief. After that the applicant is sent to the Fire Department Doctor for a complete physical and must obtain medical clearance.

    Then we interview candidates and we explain to them what we expect from them. Then, if they feel that they can fulfill the obligation, them we give them two consecutive 6-month probationary periods. That member will be released at anytime during the probationary period for not meeting the requirements of our By-Laws. All members are held to the requirements of the By-Laws at our Department. This has been proven successful. All members of the company monitor the probationary members. Any personnel issues are reported to the Chief for a formal investigation and documented in the candidates membership file.

    Leave a comment:


  • George Wendt, CFI
    replied
    I corresponded directly with no name because I thought we were far afield of the topic.

    Wait a minute, Mike. I think you might have misunderstood me. 99% of all applicants are good people you are going to take in a heartbeat. No problem. If you do a thorough background and contact the references, you will get all the rope you need. It is foolish to let a guy wreck the name of your department in order for you to prove a point.

    Too many departments in NJ probably don't have the objective criteria. I just see that law as not being as concrete as you do. The Legislature defintely did not intend to force FD to put people on who are morally corrupt.

    Leave a comment:


  • MikeHunt
    replied
    I have to agree with no_name, the NJ administrative code is very clear. You do not have the grounds to reject most applicants. If rejecting an applicant, the Fire Department must be real careful and capable of proving that the applicant can't meet the requirements of the Department without even giving them a probationary period. George, I would suggest that you accept applicants in the future and give them a probationary period.

    Hey, if the candidate is no good, then all you have to do is give them enough rope that they can hang themselves. And also make sure that you are holding them to the same level as members with more seniority. Otherwise, you are back in the same discrimination problem that you started off with.

    Good luck, and remember that this is a free country and people have the right to volunteer.

    Oh yeah, Ted - Don’t be an ***. I am both paid and volunteer. I am not sure exactly how to read your reply.

    Leave a comment:


  • no_name_FF
    replied
    Originally posted by George Wendt, CFI:


    A candidate who has been convicted of a felony in NJ is automatically disqualified under NJSA Title 40 from holding a public position, so that goes without saying.
    Actually, that is incorrect. Only convicted arsonists are barred from volunteer fire service and the Title 40 restriction is on elected or high level positions. Joe Laborer can be a convicted felon (depending on crime).


    Originally posted by George Wendt, CFI:


    We agree 100% on the number of vol depts. that do not comply with this section. I have been a member of two departments and both of them have always voted on candidates. ONly one has the objective criteria written down.

    We are probably a little off the track of this thread. My original thought was back to my usual schtick about FF Arsonists. FF can be as upset as they want to be about a FF arsonist. However, until there is widespread use of mandatory complete background checks and psychological testing of candidates, the FF arson problem will be widespread. Mandatory background checks and psych testing are objective criteria that could be used to make a decision about a candidate.
    I agree.

    Leave a comment:


  • George Wendt, CFI
    replied
    The key here is "objective." You have to be able to say what it is. And, you can't except anyone from it. If you say no one convicted of a felony, then its no one, even if its the best firefighter ever from the next town who just moved. Look around your department and see if there are members who wouldn't pass the "objective" criteria you are thinking of.
    Objective is exactly that. If you can define the criteria that you use to judge a xandidates qualifications, and those criteria are reasonable, no problem. If the department can articulate where the candidate failed to meet the criteria, no problem.

    A candidate who has been convicted of a felony in NJ is automatically disqualified under NJSA Title 40 from holding a public position, so that goes without saying.

    We agree 100% on the number of vol depts. that do not comply with this section. I have been a member of two departments and both of them have always voted on candidates. ONly one has the objective criteria written down.

    We are probably a little off the track of this thread. My original thought was back to my usual schtick about FF Arsonists. FF can be as upset as they want to be about a FF arsonist. However, until there is widespread use of mandatory complete background checks and psychological testing of candidates, the FF arson problem will be widespread. Mandatory background checks and psych testing are objective criteria that could be used to make a decision about a candidate.

    Leave a comment:


  • no_name_FF
    replied
    Originally posted by George Wendt, CFI:
    That's what I thought you were going to post.

    First of all, it's not a crime. There are no criminal penalties in that citation. The challenge, if it got that far, would be to the Administrative Law Courts.
    I'm sorry, I shouldn't have called it a "crime," but, the only remedy is not with the Administrative Courts. You could file a complaint with the Attorney General's office and they could impose fines under NJSA 10:5-?? which says:

    Any person who violates any of the provisions of the "Law Against Discrimination," P.L.1945, c. 169 (C. 10:5-1 et seq.), shall, in addition to any other relief or affirmative action provided by law, be liable to a penalty of not more than $2,000.00 for the first offense and not more than $5,000.00 for the second and each subsequent offense. The penalties shall be determined by the director in such amounts as he deems proper under the circumstances and included in his order following his finding of an unlawful discrimination or an unlawful employment practice pursuant to section 16 of P.L.1945, c. 169 (C. 10:5-17). Any such amounts collected by the director shall be paid forthwith into the State Treasury for the general purposes of the State

    Originally posted by George Wendt, CFI:

    Secondly, it allows the companies to establish objective criteria for admitting fire fighters. These criteria can include items regarding character fitness. It does not say you have to admit everybody who applies and whoever told you that is wrong.
    The key here is "objective." You have to be able to say what it is. And, you can't except anyone from it. If you say no one convicted of a felony, then its no one, even if its the best firefighter ever from the next town who just moved. Look around your department and see if there are members who wouldn't pass the "objective" criteria you are thinking of.
    Originally posted by George Wendt, CFI:

    Read it again. It allows the fire department a wide berth. You have to be able to articulate a reason why you rejected him. A reason other than "he was a jerk" or "we don't like him". If his background check (including checking references) comes up questionable, you have evey right in the world to reject that applicant. The major fault of FD "background" checks is the failure to call the references.
    Yes and no. You need to tell the person what the reason is. It needs to be objective. Not a "we don't feel you have enough character." If you base your rejection upon a character reference, you are on the weakest ground of all. First, in court you will need to get the reference to testify.... good luck.

    What department are you with? If I call your town clerk, does he or she have the objective criteria and applications on file? I would bet that 90% of NJ's volunteers have not complied with this section. Does your company vote on the member?

    Leave a comment:


  • George Wendt, CFI
    replied
    That's what I thought you were going to post.

    First of all, it's not a crime. There are no criminal penalties in that citation. The challenge, if it got that far, would be to the Administrative Law Courts.

    Secondly, it allows the companies to establish objective criteria for admitting fire fighters. These criteria can include items regarding character fitness. It does not say you have to admit everybody who applies and whoever told you that is wrong.

    Read it again. It allows the fire department a wide berth. You have to be able to articulate a reason why you rejected him. A reason other than "he was a jerk" or "we don't like him". If his background check (including checking references) comes up questionable, you have evey right in the world to reject that applicant. The major fault of FD "background" checks is the failure to call the references.

    Leave a comment:


  • no_name_FF
    replied
    New Jersey Administrative Code:

    13:12-1.1 Membership procedures of volunteer fire companies and first aid squads

    (a) Membership in volunteer fire companies and first aid squads shall be open to all persons who are able to perform the duties of volunteer fireman or first aid squad member, respectively, without discrimination on the basis of an applicant's race, creed, color, sex, age, national origin, ancestry, marital status or physical handicap. In order to effectuate this requirement of nondiscrimination, volunteer fire companies and first aid squads (hereinafter called "companies") shall adhere to the following admissions procedures:
    1. Each company shall establish objective qualifications for membership, which shall relate directly and solely to the physical and technical ability and character fitness of an applicant to perform the vocational duties of a volunteer fireman or first aid squad member, respectively.
    2. Each company shall submit a notice to the clerk of each municipality in which it operates which shall include the company's name, address, the names of its officers and members and the dates of its regular organization meetings. Said notice shall be posted by the clerk forthwith.
    3. Each company shall supply the clerk of each municipality it serves with application forms, and the clerk shall distribute them on written request or on personal request made during normal business hours. Said forms shall state that applications may be filed either by personal delivery or by sending them by mail to the secretary or other designated officer of the company, whose mailing address shall either appear on the application form or be available from the municipal clerk.
    4. The secretary or other officer designated to receive applications shall date each application with the time of receipt and shall number the application according to its order of receipt relative to other applications. He shall promptly send a letter or post card to each applicant stating the number of his application and the date and time it was received.
    5. Each company shall establish a membership committee consisting of not more than 15 members which shall be solely responsible for evaluating and ruling upon application for membership. It shall, within 60 days of receipt of an application by the company, make a report to the company as to whether or not the applicant qualifies for membership. Its decision shall be binding on the company, and no vote of the membership shall be conducted on the issue of whether an applicant shall be admitted to membership.
    6. Applicants reported by the investigating committee to be qualified for membership shall be admitted in the order in which their applications were received as set forth in paragraph 4 of this subsection as soon as vacancies exist. If at any time the number of applicants found to be qualified exceeds the number of current vacancies, a waiting list shall be established according to the order in which the applications were received, and appointments shall be made therefrom in that same order.
    7. If the membership committee determines that an applicant does not meet the minimum requirements for membership, the company's secretary shall promptly advise the applicant in writing of the rejection and the qualifications, described with particularity, which he has not substantially met.
    8. Any company may require newly accepted applicants to serve a probationary period of reasonable duration, not to exceed one year. During such period, and at the conclusion thereof, each probationary member shall be evaluated solely by the officers of the company who supervise him in the performance of his duties. They may cause the dismissal of any member during his probationary period only for failure to perform the established duties of a probationary member in a reasonably satisfactory manner or other good cause, and may do so by notifying the probationary member in writing of his rejection and the particular reasons therefor. At the end of the probationary period, the said supervising officers shall determine whether or not the applicant has satisfactorily performed the duties of probationary member. If he has, they shall promptly recommend to the membership that he be admitted to full membership, and their recommendations shall be binding on the company and he shall be so admitted forthwith. If he has not, they shall promptly notify the probationary member in writing of his rejection and the particular reasons therefor. No vote of the membership shall be conducted on the issue of whether any probationary member shall continue as a probationary member or shall be admitted to full membership.
    9. Nothing contained in this Subchapter shall be construed to prevent any company, in its discretion, from providing intra-company means for appealing rejections from applications for membership or dismissals from membership.
    10. Any person who is rejected or dismissed from membership by any company shall have the right to challenge such action in accordance with the procedures set forth in the Law Against Discrimination, N.J.S.A. 10:5-1 et seq.
    11. All nouns and pronouns in the masculine gender utilized in this Subchapter shall be construed to include the female gender.

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  • no_name_FF
    replied
    Originally posted by George Wendt, CFI:
    no-name-FF wrote:


    Please quote the chapter and section of this law. I do not believe there is such a law in NJ. If there is, you may be misunderstanding it. People are denied memberships and jobs every day for things such as psychological problems. This can be reasonably articulated. Please post the citation ASAP.
    Give me a day or two to cite it, its tucked away in a box at home.

    It applies to volunteers only, not "jobs."

    Leave a comment:

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