Archive for August 22nd, 2014

Des Plaines to review hiring criteria for firefighters

The Chicago Tribune has an article about a requirement for applying to be a firefighter in Des Plaines

Des Plaines Ald. James Brookman, 5th, would like the Des Plaines Fire Department to ditch a requirement that mandates prospective firefighter candidates have a paramedic license to qualify for the job. The Des Plaines City Council recently approved an amendment that allows the city’s board of fire and police commissioners to set a minimum passing score for firefighter applicants on the department’s written exam.

Brookman, a former firefighter, used the consent agenda item as an opportunity to air his grievances with a city rule that says only applicants currently licensed with the Illinois Department of Public Health as a paramedic or those who hold a current certificate from the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians as a paramedic may take the exam.

Brookman argued that the department, with the current rule in place, was limiting its pool of applicants to “an extremely small percentage of all people. We should hire the best people we can find and then train them,” he said.

But training an applicant who does not currently hold a paramedic license costs in the range of $60,000 per person, Fire Chief Alan Wax said. The city’s fire department hasn’t always required firefighter applicants to be licensed paramedics. The Des Plaines Board of Fire and Police Commissioners approved the licensure requirement in August 2006, Wax said following the meeting.

Before that, applicants with paramedic licenses received preference points during the hiring process, he said.

State law allows municipalities to require the license before taking the exam, Wax said. He added that many prospective candidates recognize that the license “gives them an advantage” and are taking the initiative to get one. But Brookman argued that the department could benefit greatly from individuals with varied backgrounds — people that may not have a paramedic license but carry potentially valuable skill sets in other areas.

Des Plaines’ requirement is “not unique” in Illinois, said Illinois Firefighter’s Association President John Swan … many municipalities have instituted the requirement because it “basically saves the communities a lot of money.” Often, Swan said, a city hires a firefighter without a license, pays for their training and then their new hire decides to leave the department.

Wax said it’s also possible that a new hire may fail to pass the requirements to earn a paramedic license despite city-funded training. In that case, the city coffers would be drained of thousands of dollars and the department would also have to begin the hiring process from square one.

Brookman’s arguments, however, convinced Ald. Patricia Haugeberg, 1st, chair of the council’s public safety committee to take the issue up with the board of fire and police commissioners. Board Commissioner Debra Lester asked that the council give the board time to gather more information. She added that she did not think the issue was one which warranted a simple yes or no answer.

Now that the requirement is up for debate, a written firefighter exam previously scheduled for mid-September will be delayed, Wax said.

thanks Dan

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New ambulance for Bedford Park

Larry Shapiro submitted images of the new Bedford Park Ambulance 714.

Road Rescue Type I ambulance on Ford F-450 chassis

Ambulance 714 – 2013 Ford F-450/ 2014 Road Rescue Type I so#R 331024. Larry Shapiro photo

Type I Ambulance photo

Larry Shapiro photo

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