Fire Department May Require Background Checks for New Employees and Volunteers

By Michael Klazema on 2/13/2012

Some cities in the nation are taking steps in order to fully protect citizens. For example, the city of Coatesville, PA is considering putting employees and volunteers from their fire department through full criminal background checks. In Coatesville, there are currently both full time and volunteer firefighters. The new policy, if passed, would only apply to new volunteers and employees, not those who are already serving. One of the main reason the city is considering this change is so full time employees and volunteers will be going through the same process when it comes to background checks.

Though the idea is certainly out there, the city is currently forming an exploratory committee as to decide what will be checked and how extensive these background checks would be. It is important when checking the backgrounds of all employees and volunteers that all of them go through the same process.

The city of Coatesville states that there was no single event that caused this idea to take hold, but there is a history of issues when it comes to the fire department and their lack of background checks. One example is the case of Robert Tracey, who was a volunteer fire fighter.  He was serving as the assistant Fire Chief of the city when a series of arsons took place. Tracey was convicted of the arsons. After his arrest it was found that he had a history of arson as well as two counts of writing bad checks and two counts of theft. He had never been subject to a background check until he was arrested. The fire department has never said that this case is the cause of the move towards background checks, they only say they wish to move in a positive direction.

Companies like the Coatesville, PA fire department can continue to move in a positive direction when it comes to background checks by using the services of third party companies like The company have a lot of different products, like Ongoing Criminal Monitoring which would be a great idea for the fire department since they are only planning on performing background checks on those who are new hires. This would allow the department to be notified if any of their employees or volunteers are indicted or convicted of any crime.  Keeping the residents of Coatesville safe from fires is one job of the fire department and now they are also moving towards keeping them safe from criminals.

About - - a founding member of the National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS®) - serves thousands of customers nationwide, from small businesses to Fortune 100 companies by providing comprehensive screening services.  Headquartered in Dallas, Texas, with an Eastern Operations Center in Chapin, S.C., is home to one of the largest online criminal conviction databases in the industry. For more information about backgroundchecks’ offerings, please visit


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