Background Checks for Volunteer Workers

The issue of background checks in employment is an issue that is often in the media, especially now with the current economic crisis with many layoffs and top executives and CEOs shown to be wasteful or deceptive with company funds. But, what if the individuals in question are volunteers performing duties much like full time workers? Should they be subject to background checks, as well?

In the case of a volunteer fire department in Rochester, IL, some residents think that background checks for volunteer firefighters should be required, especially as a volunteer firefighter in Rochester was recently arrested on child pornography charges when pictures were found on a home computer. Full-time firefighters in Rochester, however, go through many background checks, drug testing, and psychological exams before being hired. Legislation is in the work to require background checks for all volunteer firefighters in the state.

Volunteer or not, all firefighters should be held to the same standards as higher fire department officials, especially as they’re doing most of the work for extinguishing a burning building and saving lives. Many towns in Illinois conduct background checks on their volunteer firefighters to make sure that all are fit for the job, and this should be consistent across the state. If a bill is passed to require all volunteer fire departments to conduct background checks on all potential volunteers, those with a criminal background, no matter how well-liked by other volunteer firefighters, won’t be put in a position that requires them to have a clean background, much like anyone in a higher position in the fire department. As all are entrusted to have or learn the skills to put out a fire and to help any trapped residents, volunteers and full-time fire department employees should be held to the same standards.