Excerpts from the DailyHerald.com:

With a new round of eligibility list testing set for next month, the Elgin Fire Department has dropped its requirement that candidates have 60 college credit hours in an effort to increase diversity. Like most suburban fire departments, Elgin’s is predominantly white and male, and the last round of testing in 2016 didn’t do much to change that. The decision to lower the educational requirement came after conversations with a diversity consultant and community groups.

The fire department has 133 firefighters, including four women and eight minorities. The last hiring eligibility list comprised 42 men and two women; 35 were white and three were minorities, with eight who didn’t specify their race.

Elgin created a Fire Explorer program for youths ages 14 to 20 about four years ago to increase diversity. One-third of Explorers are minorities, but so far, the only two who plan to take the test are white males. The department also is reaching out to middle school students and college female athletes.

Eligibility list testing applications are being accepted through July 13 at cityofelgin.org/98/employment. Applicants must be 21 and 35 years old and have an EMT basic certification. They get preference if they have 60 college credit hours or degrees, military service, city residency, and more.