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State to vet firefighters for past sex offenses

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ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — New volunteer firefighters in New York state will be screened for past sex offenses under a law signed Monday by Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

Under the old law, fire department applicants have to be screened only for arson convictions.

The amendment, scheduled to take effect in four months, is meant to ensure registered sex offenders are kept out of fire companies whose members come in contact with children and other vulnerable people on medical and fire calls and at community and school events.

The law specifically applies to new applicants and transfers from other volunteer fire departments. It authorizes background checks by the state Division of Criminal Justice Services, which maintains New York’s sex offender registry.

However, legislative sponsors and Cuomo say it’s also a way for removing current firefighters with those convictions.

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