House Bill 315 - Various Arson Law Changes


Dear Adam

Fire Marshals and Fire Chiefs:

House Bill 315, Various Arson Law Changes, was ratified this week, signed by the Governor, and became Chapter Law 2022-8. The bill makes several changes to NC Law regarding Arson and Unlawful Burning, changes and adds some definitions, and changes penalties on several felony laws. A complete text of the bill can be found at

https://www.ncleg.gov/Sessions/2021/Bills/House/PDF/H315v6.pdf

One notable series of changes involves background checks for career and volunteer firefighters. The City, or County that a fire department may contract with, must insure that a background check is obtained for any individual applying for a volunteer or career position on a fire department. The existing wording requires a department to cooperate with law enforcement or background Security representatives in obtaining fingerprints and criminal history on any member, but new language allows the department to charge the member for any background check if they desire.

Another significant change is in regards to criminal findings concerning arson or unlawful burning. While certain crimes may justify dismissal or denial of an application, there are certain arson and unlawful burning crimes listed that would automatically prohibit an individual from serving in a volunteer or career capacity on a fire department. This includes denial of an application or dismissal of a current member. Changes also give authority to deny an applicant for just cause, and lists specifics issues to be considered for denial, even if not included on the list of crimes that would prohibit serving.

In the case of a County Fire Department, the Fire Marshal or County must ensure these checks are done, and in the case of a municipal department, the Chief must ensure these checks are done for any applicant.

This is just an overview of the new laws. Please review the Chapter Law completely and discuss it with your City Attorney, personnel director, or County Fire Marshal/Emergency Management Director.

For additional information contact:

Tim Bradley, Executive Director