Can You Be a Firefighter with a DUI: Felony & Criminal Record?

With a job crisis on the market, jobs in career fire departments are getting more and more applicants. While volunteer fire departments sometimes overlook criminal records, is it the same for career fire departments?

More specifically, can you be a firefighter with a DUI?

Most fire departments accept candidates with DUIs over 5 years old. No matter how insignificant the offense was, you have to pass that period. But you’ll have a tough time considering there are hundreds of other people applying with a clean record.

Although things do get a bit more exciting than this. You can prove your worth to the interviewers and improve your credibility.

Needless to say, I can’t explain everything in a small paragraph. So, if you want to dig deep, hop on with me-

Read also: Do Firefighters Have To Take A Polygraph? (Quick Answer!)

Can You Be A Firefighter With A Criminal Record?

If you’ve ever committed a crime, it’s going to be on your personal criminal record. It’s that simple. But can you still become a firefighter with a tainted criminal record?

police officer caught suspense, Can You Be A Firefighter With A Criminal Record?

Well, here’s where it gets a little complicated.

Whether or not you can be a firefighter with a criminal record depends on the type of crime you did and the organization you’re applying to. Explaining the situation to the interviewers might work at times but then again, the extent of the crime is what plays the major role.

Now you have to understand that being a firefighter isn’t that easy. They have to go through countless tests and hardships to prove their worth. There’s a reason why people look up to them.

If it’s a petty crime, you might start by explaining why you did it and show your remorse. Bottom line? Don’t be afraid to show your honesty. If they’re convinced, you might get the job, you never know.

But then again, this doesn’t apply to heinous and dangerous crimes. If you had to go to prison for a long time and came to become a firefighter, you have little to no chance of ever becoming a firefighter.

Can Firefighter Applicants Still Get Hired Even with a DUI Conviction?

You can still get hired even with a DUI like other applicants. However, your chances are slim considering there are thousands of people applying for the same job. If you somehow get to the interview rounds, remember to show your remorse and what you’ve done to improve yourself. Be honest, that’s all.

A DUI isn’t that serious of a crime unless you cause wreckage or hurt someone. Go a little over the speed limit and you might get one. Sometimes it happens by mistake and you learn from your mistakes.

You see people understand these things. Just because you have a DUI on your personal criminal record doesn’t necessarily mean your life is over. What matters most is what you’ve done to take responsibility.

Have you done anything to change your behavior? And if you did, is it believable?

However, there’s one other thing you should remember. If somehow the DUI is a recent one, meaning less than a year ago, your chances are even slimmer.

And if you have more than one DUI on your rap sheet, you can very well forget about getting a job in the fire department.

The best-case scenario is you’ve had one DUI at least 5 years ago. and you’ve gone to all the programs to fix yourself. Then you can think of getting the job.

What Happens to Firefighters That Commit DUIs on the Job?

Depending on how severe the DUI is, you might face anything from a reprimand to job disposal. But the department policies, union bylaws, and city policies play a major role in the final outcome.

Even though firefighters swore to protect everyone, sometimes they are the ones who cause the damage. But when a firefighter gets DUI, things can be complicated.

The thing is you lose your license when you commit DUI. Without a legal driving license, it’s not possible to become a firefighter. Sure it’s temporary but your license is still getting taken away.

When you abuse a substance, it impairs your suitability for the task. Whether or not you can handle the job becomes questionable. Your mood, concentration, and most importantly reliability, get cloudy.

What’s more, the reputation of the department gets tarnished. Official personnel committing DUIs certainly do not look good from the outside. If the crime is severe, you might end up losing your job. 

What Happens if a Firefighter Drinks/Drives in Their Personal Life?

Firefighters aren’t always on duty. After all, they deserve their private time considering they save people from dangerous situations. But the question is, can a firefighter drink/drive in their personal life?

Firefighters are allowed to drink in their personal life as long as they don’t cross the limit and cause accidents. Getting a DUI off-duty will result in their license taken away. The key here is to drink responsibly.      

But it gets trickier. Suppose you’re at an unofficial event with superiors and peers. The thing is your every move is being watched. Whatever you do in your personal life still has an impact on your professional life.

The sooner you realize that, the better it is. You can’t really expect to get promotions if you love being a clown at a party, can you?

What Other Crimes Could Keep Me from Becoming a Firefighter?

Each and every candidate goes through a thorough background check. Although the thoroughness depends on the department itself. But either way, if you have something on your record, it’ll show.

Offenses such as reckless driving, leaving the scene of accidents, avoiding motor insurance renewal are all red flags to higher officials. Not to mention, there are other severe crimes that can get you off the list right away.

But what’s more concerning is a series of reckless behavior. We all tend to make mistakes at one time or another. But when you grow a tendency, that’s when things start going south.

Needless to say, fire departments don’t see things nicely. After all, you have to be extra cautious with these recruitments.

Can You Be a Firefighter with a Felony/Expunged Felony?

Every firefighter department follows a criminal background check. But your eligibility depends on how severe the crime was and how long it was ago. While Class A felonies are permanently disqualified, the other ones depend on the policies of the department.

Can You Be a Firefighter with a Felony/Expunged Felony?

Here’s a quick chart to let you know how the Austin, Texas Fire Department handles their criminal background checks

Type of CrimeDisqualification Period
Felony ConvictionPermanent
Class A MisdemeanorPermanent
Class B Misdemeanor5 years
Class C Misdemeanor(not including traffic)2 years
2 or more Class B MisdemeanorPermanent
2 or more Class B arrests5 years
2 or more Class C arrests2 years
DWI or DUI charges5 years
Family violencePermanent

The laws obviously differ depending on where you live. But if it’s a 1st-degree felony such as murder or rape, it’ll be applied universally. No fire department in the world would take you.

Although there’s an interesting case here. Someone joined the fire department in the US even though he has a criminal record. But the intriguing part is his criminal record was in Germany.

Lucky for him, the fire department wasn’t that thorough. But technology is getting better every day. If you really want the job, it’s better to stay open and honest.

How Firefighter Candidates Can Overcome a DUI?

team of firefighters

Throughout the article, you might’ve noticed one thing. I’ve talked about honesty numerous times. I mean you really have to think about it.

Imagine yourself as the interviewer or the chief of the fire department. Would you give a chance to every guy with DUI? No, obviously not. You might give the guy a chance and see what he’s done for himself.

But if he stayed the same and didn’t do anything for remorse, chances are he’s never going to get the job. Anyways, here’s what I think you can do-

First thing first, you need to take responsibility for your actions. A good idea is to become a volunteer for organizations that take steps against drunk driving. No matter what you think about it, volunteering can change your way of thinking about society. Most importantly, it shows that you care.

Nevertheless, volunteering isn’t going to land you a job for sure. It’s only the first step of the process. You have to believe in yourself and what you’re doing. If you can prove that to the interview board, then you can expect to get a call from them.

Bottom Line

That said, can i be a firefighter with a DUI? Well, depends on how long you did it and whether or not you took responsibility for your actions. No one’s hardly going to blame you for some small offense you did 5 years ago.

But how you deal with the situation is what matters. Play the victim role and you’ll get crushed. You have to accept what you did and move forward.

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