East Peoria Fire Department news

Excerpts from 25newsnow.com:

A nationwide shortage of firefighters and EMTs has fire departments feeling the pinch to recruit more of each.

Fire Chief Bobby Zimmerman said East Peoria no longer requires firefighters to be EMT Basic licensed, for the first time in 20 years.

“We’re kind of following along with the other trades. Whether you’re a police officer, a mason, an electrician. We want to hire you and then we’ll pay and train you to serve our citizens,” said Chief Zimmerman.

Other fire departments have relaxed their requirements for applicants too, such as Bloomington and Normal.

Typically, the EMT Basic class takes six months to complete. Now, recruits will be sent to the academy in Peoria for a condensed, five-week class. They will get experience and a paycheck in the meantime.

Long-time firefighter and VP of Illinois Firefighters Association Kevin Schott told us the time commitment is higher and the job is more demanding for newer firefighters. “We have to look at making it more palatable for our younger generation who are much more busy than we were when I first started in the fire department – so we can entice them to continue helping us out,” said Schott.

Chief Zimmerman hopes this fulfills their goal of hiring 8 to 10 staff members within the next six months. The City of East Peoria currently has 48 paid staff across their three, soon-to-be four fire substations.

“It’s very difficult for them to get that certificate. This now will allow us to hire them without that certificate, and now come on board,” said Zimmerman.

thanks Rob

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