Evanston Fire Department collaborates on new hiring law

Emma Edmund, Assistant City Editor

The Evanston Fire Department collaborated with local officials on a new law that creates a hiring preference for fire service career applicants with at least 600 hours of fire suppression work in a certified program.

The law, signed on August 23 by Governor J.B. Pritzker, amends the Illinois Municipal Code and the Fire Protection District Act. The change will now allow qualified candidates to receive hiring preference if they have had the 600 hours of work within a 12-month period as part of a certified apprenticeship program.

These applicants can receive up to 20 points added to their firefighter eligibility list score, thus increasing their chances of employment.

“This law will not only encourage more individuals to explore a fire service career through a certified apprenticeship program,” Scott said in a news release, “it will also help ensure that departments can hire the best candidates available, resulting in safer communities.”

The bill was sponsored by state Rep. Robyn Gabel (D-Evanston) in collaboration with the Evanston Fire Department. Gabel thanked Evanston Fire Chief Brian Scott for his collaboration in creating the law in a news release.

“It allows a wider range of backgrounds and experiences to be considered for firefighters’ apprenticeships, thus expanding access to good jobs beyond traditional sources,” Gabel said in the release.

The bill was also developed with the help of the Associated Fire Fighters of Illinois and its president Pat Devaney, as well as the Illinois Fire Chiefs Association.

The Evanston Fire Department is working with Oakton Community College to create a three-year apprenticeship program. [The program would complement the Fire Explorer Program geared toward young adults.

The Fire Explorer Program currently helps men and women aged 14-20 learn the basic skills of firefighting and EMS. The program also offers ride-alongs and opportunities to assist with routine tasks around the fire department and in the community.

The three-year apprenticeship program is expected to launch in the fall of 2020.

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Twitter: @emmaeedmund

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