Can a Misdemeanor or Felony Disqualify One From Becoming a Firefighter or EMT?

A felony conviction carries grave consequences. Actually, when one is convicted of felony he or she will necessarily be deprived of some basic rights normally guaranteed to other citizens without a felony conviction. However, it is worth noting that restrictions imposed on convicted felons, vary from state to state, therefore there is need to consult your specific state regulations.


The question many people ask themselves is, “can a misdemeanor or felony disqualify one from becoming a firefighter or EMT?” The straight answer is, yes. As unfortunate as it seems to be, this is the case with a number of firefighting departments.

There are many offenses considered disqualifying factors and automatically result in non-selection for employment opportunities with almost all the firefighting departments out there. These dis-qualifiers include criminal history, traffic violations, drugs and others such as dishonorable discharge from the military services, untruthfulness, deliberate inaccuracies, and the withholding of information. Unfortunately, of all the above felony and misdemeanor, which all fall under the category of criminal history, remain the greatest disqualification factors.

Firefighting departments and EMTs have their reputations to guard. They will most likely do a background check on your record before hiring you. This background check will definitely expose all your convictions. Having a criminal background effects the chances of becoming a firefighter. Consequently, if a firefighter applicant is found to have a felony conviction on a BCI background check, he/she will be automatically disqualified from employment consideration. Hence, a career in firefighting will not be a possibility.

Apparently, there is a big difference between felonies and misdemeanors, and their impact is not exactly the same on your firefighting career. In most cases of a misdemeanor, majority of employers may think twice before rejecting you. Therefore, it is worth being up front about them, by stating on the application letter exactly what your misdemeanor is for, and all circumstances surrounding it.

It is also important to note that there are minor offenses, which are classified as class one misdemeanors (e.g. littering), these would never result in automatic disqualification. However, the convictions of this kind will be evaluated on a basis of case-by-case in the context of the full investigation. Hence, applicants of these offenses are encouraged to contact the firefighting departments to discuss concerns regarding their eligibility for employment as a firefighter.

Found this useful? If so, check out our other articles on the requirements needed to become a firefighter, firefighting programs and education.

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