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Ill. FD drops EMT requirement to attract more applicants

The East Peoria Fire Department has joined others in dropping a pre-hire EMS certification requirement


East Peoria Fire Department/Facebook

By Bill Carey

EAST PEORIA, Ill. — The East Peoria Fire Department is like other fire departments dealing with a shortage of firefighters. 

Fire Chief Bobby Zimmerman said that to increase the number of applicants, the department is dropping the pre-hire EMT Basic certification requirement, 25News Now reported.

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

East Peoria joins Bloomington and Normal, who dropped a pre-hire paramedic certification requirement for applicants in October.

It typically takes six months to complete the EMT Basic certification training.

Recruits will now go to an academy in Peoria for a condensed five-week class.

Illinois Firefighters Association Vice President Kevin Schott said the change keeps up with the time demands on applicants.

“We have to look at making it more palatable for our younger generation who are much busier than we were when I first started in the fire department, so we can entice them to continue helping us out,” Schott said.

The East Peoria Fire Department has 48 paid staff across three fire stations. A fourth station will be built soon.