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August 4, 2003

Governor signs legislation ensuring fairness and openness in firefighter promotions

Bolingbrook, Ill. – Joined by legislators and firefighters at the Bolingbrook Fire Station, Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich today signed legislation ensuring fairness and openness in the promotion process for firefighters in Illinois.


“Firefighters play a vital role in protecting the public.  It’s important to make sure their promotion process is not tainted by favoritism and nepotism so that the best, most qualified firefighters are moving into positions of leadership and added responsibility,” Blagojevich said.


Under the legislation signed today, House Bill 988, fire departments and fire protection districts are required to publish promotion lists and establish promotion procedures that are based on written exam scores, seniority, merit, subjective evaluation and veterans’ preference.  Vacant and new rank positions must be filled by the candidate with the highest ranking on the promotion list, unless that individual has a poor work performance history or has engaged in misconduct.  Impartial observers will monitor all aspects of the promotion process.


Current law allows the Board of Fire and Police Commissioners to select an appointment from the top three – and in some cases seven – candidates.  However, commissioners are appointed by local mayors, so firefighter promotions can be influenced by politics.


“I congratulate Representative Mary K. O’Brien and Senator Terry Link for working with the state’s firefighters to improve the integrity of the promotion process.  The people of Illinois deserve to know that the people they rely on in emergencies have been promoted because of their abilities, not because of their connections,” the Governor added.


House Bill 988 was sponsored by state Rep. Mary K. O’Brien, D-Coal City, and state Sen. Terry Link, D-Lake Buff.


The new law, which becomes effective immediately, does not apply to the Chicago Fire Department, or volunteer or part-time fire departments.


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