The Background Check

11 June 2021
Chief Brent Collins, President,

The Background Check 

That’s right. You have made your decision and are ready to give it your all to become a firefighter. You are committed to doing everything you can to earn your badge.

How does your background look? Even if you are already a firefighter and making a lateral move, you will still have to go through every step in the hiring process, just like you did as an applicant. You read that right. You will start at square one.

Background checks can be a sticky area. If a career as a firefighter in your future, you want to make sure you live your life as if you were still testing to get your first badge. One paramedic candidate was hired for his first job in Oregon. Now, he was trying to come home to California to be closer to his family. Although he had never smoked pot before he hired, he smoked marijuana on a ski trip with his firefighter friends three years ago. That mistake cost him the position.

Typically, your juvenile record will not be examined unless you have a felony conviction.  However, if you have any misdemeanor convictions on your adult record, make sure you are able to explain the reasons behind the issue. 

In today’s digital world, it’s not uncommon for background investigators to ask what websites will be revealed by your browser history. Some will go as far as to ask for the login credentials for your social platforms. It is not uncommon for investigators to check what you have posted. Recently, a Fire Chief told me that he had witnessed candidates in their last steps of the hiring process that were tanked by what they had posted on Social Media. This is true. And it’s not pretty.

Here is the gist. If you have an interest in becoming a firefighter or making a lateral move, keep your nose clean. We have all made mistakes. If you have a deep dark secret, admit it. Own it. Move on.

If you’re not already a firefighter, the background check will also include your past employers.  Hopefully you have been a hard worker and will get a positive recommendation from them.  If you are far along in the hiring process and you have a good relationship with your past employers, you might want to give them a heads up that they may be contacted.

Good luck in your pursuit of the greatest job on the face of the earth!  Remember – luck goes to the prepared!