Only one candidate remains on the current eligibility list and the Fire Chief expects nearly a third of its 3 dozen hires from 1993 to retire within the next two years. But Downers Grove (IL) officials were required to make changes to the policy with which it hires new firefighters in order to comply with a 2012 Illinois law.
In a Chicago Tribune story out yesterday, the suburban department is expecting a possible 200 applicants when recruiting begins, hoping they have an eligibility list in place by the end of the year.
In the new hiring process, gone is the Village’s ability to set a minimum score on written exams which can disqualify certain candidates. Additionally, the village cannot set a cap and limit how many applicants can be added to the list.
State law requires all candidates to take the graded exams, from which a median score then is determined. Everyone who has passed the physical and has scored at or above the median must be added to the final eligibility list. The second phase of testing includes an interview before the three-member board, lie-detector, psychological and medical exams.
"There's a possibility that we could have 100 candidates pass the test, and we would be required to put all 100 candidates through an interview process before this board," Village Attorney Enza Petrarca said. "I think that if we parade 100 people through here, you're not going to have a meaningful interview. You're not even going to remember one guy from another."
To that end, the Village will include the in-person evaluation as part of the background check, which only occurs after a position becomes available and a candidate has received a conditional job offer.
"This gives you the opportunity to scrutinize each individual," Fire Chief Jim Jackson said. "Just because they score really high, doesn't mean they're the right guy."