Excerpts from icbcradio.com:

During a meeting Tuesday night, the Mattoon City Council voted unanimously without additional discussion to approve a memorandum of understanding with Mattoon Firefighters Local 691 to reduce the minimum certification requirement for newly hired firefighters from EMT-paramedic to EMT-basic.

The union has called for the city to bring staffing back up to 30 firefighters as required by the current contract, which was set to expire in 2018 but is still in place until a new contract is reached. The Mattoon Fire Department currently has approximately 22 firefighters on staff. City officials have said that they are having trouble finding candidates who have paramedic certification.

Under the memorandum, there are provisions for new hires to obtain paramedic certification while they are working in the fire department. The temporary reduction in EMT requirements will expire when the city and union execute a new contract.

The two parties are also going through an Illinois Labor Relations Board hearing process, in which the city is appealing a recent ruling that the Mattoon Fire Department’s ambulance service should be reinstated. The city shuttered its service on July 25, 2018 as a cost-cutting measure and now relies solely on a private provider.