Excerpts from the Dailyherald.com:

The Elgin Fire Department is undergoing major changes as people who were part of a hiring wave in the late 1980s and early 1990s have retired, and officials have ramped up efforts to increase diversity among new hires.

The latest change will affect one of two assistant fire chief positions. Assistant Fire Chief Bryan McMahan will retire Friday and Battalion Chief Richard Carter, a 28-year veteran, will be promoted to the post next week. That will trigger three additional promotions within the ranks, Fire Chief Dave Schmidt said.

Fifteen people retired in just under three years. One person with 40 years of experience and another with 30 years of experience retired this year, and another one with more than 40 years is retiring in August.

Like most suburban fire departments, Elgin’s is predominantly white and male. In an effort to increase the pool of candidates, the 133-firefighter department last summer dropped a requirement, first established in 2000, that firefighter candidates have 60 college credit hours. Six firefighters were hired in January, including one woman and one who is Hispanic, Schmidt said. The top candidate on the eligibility hiring list was a woman who ended up taking a job elsewhere.

Efforts to increase diversity within the Fire Explorer program have been successful, and the hope is that the program’s youths will apply to work within the department when they turn 21.

Carter, the future assistant chief for administration, is a product of the department’s succession planning, which encourages firefighters to rise through the ranks. Carter was a paramedic and on the technical rescue team and has been on the training division for 15 years. He also was director of the former Elgin Regional Fire Academy.

The promotion ceremony for Carter and the others is at 3 p.m. April 10 in the Heritage Ballroom of the Ed Schock Centre of Elgin, 100 Symphony Way, Elgin.

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