SPRINGFIELD – State Senator Patrick Joyce has sponsored a new law allowing state employees to take time off for firefighter training, in an effort to address the shortage of volunteer firefighters across Illinois.
The Firefighter Training Leave of Absence Act aims to bolster the numbers of volunteers, ensuring immediate assistance in communities heavily reliant on their service. Recent years have seen fire departments struggle to recruit new volunteers, posing a threat to public safety, particularly in small towns and rural areas.
“Low numbers of volunteers are posing a major threat to public safety, especially in small towns and rural areas,” said Joyce. “This is a small step in the right direction in our efforts to recruit more volunteer firefighters and making sure all communities in Illinois are protected.”
Signed on Friday, Senate Bill 1611 will take effect on Jan. 1, 2024, granting state employees the opportunity to undergo firefighter training and help protect their communities.