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Archives for 2015

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Legislative Issues Facing North Carolina Firefighters

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The Board of the North Carolina State Firemen’s Association recognizes the importance of being actively involved in Legislative issues affecting our members, as well as issues affecting the delivery of emergency services to our citizens. By building an informed advocacy network we have an increased ability to impact legislative decisions that impact our membership. Your involvement is a critical part of that advocacy, and keeping you informed of issues insures that we all work together for the betterment of the fire service. Regardless of whether an issue is State or Federal, in reality, “ALL POLITICS ARE LOCAL”. Become involved by getting to know your representatives at home.

This is a report of the Legislative Committee of the NC Fireman’s Association and the NC Association of Fire Chiefs. It is intended to keep you up to date on legislation that may affect the fire service and related issues. It is not intended to be a legal description of legislation or its impact. Advocating for or against legislation is a democratic right, and individuals should use their best judgment in doing so. This information is provided to offer you our best estimated input and analysis of legislation of interest that may affect you.

Dates to remember: May 5th, 5:30PM – 8:00 PM Fire Service Hosted Legislative Reception
May 6th, 9:30, Fire Service Legislative Day
The following discusses both the NCSFA/NCAFC’s legislative priorities for North Carolina legislation, as well as current Federal initiatives that are being promoted by national organizations such as the National Volunteer Fire Council. These are issues and have not been introduced as legislation unless listed under State or Federal Bill tags. Any bills introduced either at the State or Federal level are listed above.

NCSFA/NCAFC 2015 Legislative Goals

  1. Priority #1: Define “Firefighter in Statute”.  The definition of the term “firefighter” has never been defined in statute, except for Article 86-25 of Chapter 58 which defines “eligible firefighter”. Eligible firefighter in GS 58-86-25 was written as criteria for receiving a year of eligibility is our Firefighter and Rescue Worker’s Pension Fund, which is actually more of a criteria for a benefit than a definition. However, since it is the only semblance of a definition for firefighter, it has become the gage in which to define firefighter in NC statute. The legislative committee of the NCSFA and NCAFC’s believe establishing a firm definition will benefit all of us and add clarity to the term “firefighter” in law.
  2. Priority #2: Make the use of Utility Vehicles by Fire and Rescue Departments on roadways legal. Currently NC law allows the use of ATV’s by fire, rescue, and law enforcement on certain highways in the official performance of their duties. However, the exemption does not list Utility Vehicles, which DMV defines as a separate class and would include Gators, Racers, etc. While we’re sure fire departments aren’t going to be ticketed for using these utility vehicles, it could cause legal implications if an accident were to occur and there wasn’t a legal exception for their use on highways.
  3. Priority #3: Monitor introduced legislation affecting the emergency services.   Last year much of our legislative work involved reacting to studies and legislation coming from other sources, and working to make them attractive for our membership. This year our involvement will also monitor and react to any legislation that appears to impact emergency services.  This priority will include working with other agencies that may want to submit changes we approve of, as well as any that might submit legislation we feel would have a negative impact.

Put on your Calendar Today….Legislative Reception and Legislative Day at the NC General Assembly

On the evening of May 5th, 2015 we will host our House and Senate members in a legislative reception, where we can share some food and fellowship in a casual environment. The next day we will go as a group to the Legislative Building and meet and greet them in a more formal setting and let them know what our goals are.  Our goal is to have at least one member from each legislative district in Raleigh, so we need our members from the East, West and Piedmont to attend.  Please mark your calendars now and plan to attend. Specific information will be posted on our web site as plans are finalized.

Joint Legislative Committee – The committee was established by both the NCSFA and NCAFC’s Executive Boards to begin addressing legislative issues that impact the Fire Service of North Carolina.  The Committee Members are:

•      Kevin S. Gordon, NCSFA – Chairperson
•      Brain Cox, NCSFA
•      Barry Overman, NCSFA
•      Anthony Penland, NCSFA
•      Tim Bradley, NCSFA
•      Debbie Clary, NCSFA
•      Ron Fowler, NCAFC
•      Jake Whisnant, NCAFC
•      Benny Nichols, NCAFC
•      Chris Nichols, NCAFC

For additional information contact:

Tim Bradley
Executive Director

Kevin S. Gordon
Executive Board

Debbie Clary
Governmental Affairs

Criminal History Checks on Firefighters and Rescue Members

Last year the General Assembly passed HB 698 which allowed Fire Chief’s to conduct criminal background checks on new and existing personnel, volunteer or career. These checks (G.S. 143B-943) are at the Chief’s discretion, and the information may be used to consider employment or membership.

 

Procedure for Fire Departments and Emergency Medical Services agencies to receive criminal history records checks of applicants and current members (NCGS 143B-943) 

February 2015 

1) Requests can only be made by a designated Homeland Security director (paid only), a local fire chief of a rated fire department (paid or volunteer), a county fire marshal(paid only), an emergency services director(paid only). This will be the Authorized Official.

2) Each Authorized Official (such as fire chief) must request and submit an Access Agreement form for its agency. The Access Agreement may be requested by calling 919.582.8600 or emailing ciishelp@ncdoj.gov . The Access Agreement must be completed, signed, notarized and mailed back to the SBI Criminal Identification Section.

Address: NC SBI

P.O. Box 29500

Raleigh, NC 27626-0500

Approval of the Agreement should take 2-4 weeks.

3) An initial supply of blank fingerprint cards will be provided by the SBI in the agreement package. More fingerprint cards can be ordered from the SBI by following instructions included in the agreement package.

4) Using the fingerprint card provided, the fire chief arranges for each applicant or member to have fingerprinting done at their local police department or sheriff’s office to ensure that it is done properly. There may be a local fee for this, depending on local practice.

5) The completed fingerprint card is returned to the fire chief, who will then mail it to the Criminal Identification Section at the address above. There is a 38.00 fee per card submitted. This will be billed back to the fire department (as per the Agreement) at the end of each month.

6) The results of the criminal history records check will be mailed back to the fire chief. This will typically be within 1-2 weeks from receipt of the fingerprint card to the SBI. All information provided is privileged information and for the exclusive use of the fire chief only for the purpose authorized in NC General Statute 143B-943, and must be locked and secured at all times. Specific responsibilities and requirements are explained in the access agreement.

7) (GUIDANCE FOR USE OF DATA FOR FIRE CHIEF) -If the applicant’s or current member’s verified criminal history record check reveals one or more convictions, then the conviction shall constitute just cause for not selecting the applicant for the position or for dismissing the current member from a current position with the local fire department or emergency medical services. The conviction shall not automatically prohibit volunteering or employment; however, the following factors shall be considered by the local Homeland Security director, local fire chief, county fire marshal, emergency services director, or local law enforcement agency in

determining whether the position shall be denied or the current member dismissed from a current position:

(a) The level and seriousness of the crime;

(b) The date of the crime;

(c) The age of the person at the time of the conviction;

(d) The circumstances surrounding the commission of the crime, if known;

(e) The nexus between the criminal conduct of the person and the duties of the person;

(f) The prison, jail, probation, parole, rehabilitation, and employment records of the person since the date the crime was committed; and

(g) The subsequent commission by the person of a crime listed in subsection (a) of this section.

(h) The local fire department or emergency medical services may deny the applicant or current member the position or dismiss an applicant or current member who refuses to consent to a criminal history record check or use of fingerprints or other identifying information required by the State or National Repositories of Criminal Histories. This refusal constitutes just cause for the denial of the position or the dismissal from a current position.

(i) The local fire department or emergency medical services may also extend a conditional offer of the position pending the results of a criminal history record check.