Firefighters’ Gone Wild: Time for Background Checks

Nick Fishman

Sounds like the Washington D.C. Fire Department has some problems on their hands related to background checks.  Still can’t make heads or tails of what the fire chief means when he says, “I think the public should have said ‘wow’ 30 years ago, when we got so derailed– when background checks were a thing of the past.”

Documents Reveal Firefighters’ Records– By ROBY CHAVEZ/myfoxdc

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Documents show an unknown amount of firefighters with criminal backgrounds are working for the D.C. Fire Department. FOX 5 obtained exclusive internal affairs documents from the department that show many have records, but are issued little more than a written reprimand by Chief Dennis Rubin.

“We’ve had problems associated with alcohol, drugs and weapons possession. Some of the issues we’ve had to deal with are truly worrisome. Drugs weapons, alcohol DUI– all of that has happened,” admitted Chief Dennis Rubin.

The revelation could mean the department is allowing convicted criminals into district homes and schools. It is a startling admission from the District’s own fire chief: firefighters with criminal backgrounds and still on the job.

The documents detail arrests or convictions for current firefighters for possession of a controlled substance, assault with a deadly weapon, DUI, driving an uninsured vehicle, failure to appear, simple assault, possession of a firearm and theft to name a few. These are all charges the chief knows about.

On one DUI conviction, Chief Rubin signed off, and okayed a 36-hour suspension.

Before you say wow, the chief says, “I think the public should have said ‘wow’ 30 years ago, when we got so derailed– when background checks were a thing of the past.”

Even after some background checks were run by the department and it was determined some firefighters violated policy to notify the department, some only get a letter of reprimand and only minimal time off. For example, for an assault with a deadly weapon charge which was uncovered by the department itself, Chief Rubin only suspended the sergeant for 24 hours.

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Nick Fishman
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Nick Fishman

Nick Fishman is the co-founder of EmployeeScreenIQ, a leading, global employment background screening provider, and serves as the company’s executive vice president and chief marketing officer. He pioneered the creation of EmployeeScreen University, the #1 educational resource on employment background checks for human resources, security and risk management professionals. A recognized industry expert, Nick is a frequent author, presenter and contributor to the news media. Nick is also a licensed private investigator in the states of Ohio and Texas.
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