Danger of a Different Kind: Firefighters Push to Keep Sex Offenders Out

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The dangers of being a firefighter. Some are obvious. And others, not so much. That's why the New York State Firemen's Association is fighting to prevent what it claims is a danger of a different kind.

Convicted sex offenders volunteering as firefighters.

"Current labor law does give certain considerations and prohibits sex offenders from working in positions similar to firefighters that are entrusted with people's safety and well-being. And so we just want some parity brought into our field," said Andrew Maracco, FASNY lobbyist.

Hundreds of firefighters and emergency responders are pushing legislation to do it this year.

"Since the job that we do deals a lot with the public, it'd be very difficult for someone who is a registered sex offender to be able to partake because we never know when we're going to have children involved or other adults," said Jim Chesnut.

Now the firemen's association is bringing the fight to Albany, where a bill prohibiting convicted sex offenders from being volunteer firefighters has passed the state senate, but has yet to pass the assembly.

"I would support it as it is right now - the sex offender bill. Most people who are in a vulnerable position when they have firefighters helping them and working with them, they have to trust who's doing that," said Assemblyman Ken Blankenbush, R-117.

The firefighters we spoke with say they aren't aware of any sex offenders who are currently working in their departments, but say it is still a concern, which is why getting this legislation passed is one of their top priorities.

Thursday, August 28, 2014
, Watertown, NY

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