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65 ILCS 5/10-2.1-6.3

    (65 ILCS 5/10-2.1-6.3)
    Sec. 10-2.1-6.3. Original appointments; full-time fire department.
    (a) Applicability. Unless a commission elects to follow the provisions of Section 10-2.1-6.4, this Section shall apply to all original appointments to an affected full-time fire department. Existing registers of eligibles shall continue to be valid until their expiration dates, or up to a maximum of 2 years after August 4, 2011 (the effective date of Public Act 97-251).
    Notwithstanding any statute, ordinance, rule, or other law to the contrary, all original appointments to an affected department to which this Section applies shall be administered in the manner provided for in this Section. Provisions of the Illinois Municipal Code, municipal ordinances, and rules adopted pursuant to such authority and other laws relating to initial hiring of firefighters in affected departments shall continue to apply to the extent they are compatible with this Section, but in the event of a conflict between this Section and any other law, this Section shall control.
    A home rule or non-home rule municipality may not administer its fire department process for original appointments in a manner that is less stringent than this Section. This Section is a limitation under subsection (i) of Section 6 of Article VII of the Illinois Constitution on the concurrent exercise by home rule units of the powers and functions exercised by the State.
    A municipality that is operating under a court order or consent decree regarding original appointments to a full-time fire department before August 4, 2011 (the effective date of Public Act 97-251) is exempt from the requirements of this Section for the duration of the court order or consent decree.
    Notwithstanding any other provision of this subsection (a), this Section does not apply to a municipality with more than 1,000,000 inhabitants.
    (b) Original appointments. All original appointments made to an affected fire department shall be made from a register of eligibles established in accordance with the processes established by this Section. Only persons who meet or exceed the performance standards required by this Section shall be placed on a register of eligibles for original appointment to an affected fire department.
    Whenever an appointing authority authorizes action to hire a person to perform the duties of a firefighter or to hire a firefighter-paramedic to fill a position that is a new position or vacancy due to resignation, discharge, promotion, death, the granting of a disability or retirement pension, or any other cause, the appointing authority shall appoint to that position the person with the highest ranking on the final eligibility list. If the appointing authority has reason to conclude that the highest ranked person fails to meet the minimum standards for the position or if the appointing authority believes an alternate candidate would better serve the needs of the department, then the appointing authority has the right to pass over the highest ranked person and appoint either: (i) any person who has a ranking in the top 5% of the register of eligibles or (ii) any person who is among the top 5 highest ranked persons on the list of eligibles if the number of people who have a ranking in the top 5% of the register of eligibles is less than 5 people.
    Any candidate may pass on an appointment once without losing his or her position on the register of eligibles. Any candidate who passes a second time may be removed from the list by the appointing authority provided that such action shall not prejudice a person's opportunities to participate in future examinations, including an examination held during the time a candidate is already on the municipality's register of eligibles.
    The sole authority to issue certificates of appointment shall be vested in the board of fire and police commissioners. All certificates of appointment issued to any officer or member of an affected department shall be signed by the chairperson and secretary, respectively, of the board upon appointment of such officer or member to the affected department by action of the board. After being selected from the register of eligibles to fill a vacancy in the affected department, each appointee shall be presented with his or her certificate of appointment on the day on which he or she is sworn in as a classified member of the affected department. Firefighters who were not issued a certificate of appointment when originally appointed shall be provided with a certificate within 10 days after making a written request to the chairperson of the board of fire and police commissioners. Each person who accepts a certificate of appointment and successfully completes his or her probationary period shall be enrolled as a firefighter and as a regular member of the fire department.
    For the purposes of this Section, "firefighter" means any person who has been prior to, on, or after August 4, 2011 (the effective date of Public Act 97-251) appointed to a fire department or fire protection district or employed by a State university and sworn or commissioned to perform firefighter duties or paramedic duties, or both, except that the following persons are not included: part-time firefighters; auxiliary, reserve, or voluntary firefighters, including paid-on-call firefighters; clerks and dispatchers or other civilian employees of a fire department or fire protection district who are not routinely expected to perform firefighter duties; and elected officials.
    (c) Qualification for placement on register of eligibles. The purpose of establishing a register of eligibles is to identify applicants who possess and demonstrate the mental aptitude and physical ability to perform the duties required of members of the fire department in order to provide the highest quality of service to the public. To this end, all applicants for original appointment to an affected fire department shall be subject to examination and testing which shall be public, competitive, and open to all applicants unless the municipality shall by ordinance limit applicants to residents of the municipality, county or counties in which the municipality is located, State, or nation. Any examination and testing procedure utilized under subsection (e) of this Section shall be supported by appropriate validation evidence and shall comply with all applicable State and federal laws. Municipalities may establish educational, emergency medical service licensure, and other prerequisites for participation in an examination or for hire as a firefighter. Any municipality may charge a fee to cover the costs of the application process.
    Residency requirements in effect at the time an individual enters the fire service of a municipality cannot be made more restrictive for that individual during his or her period of service for that municipality, or be made a condition of promotion, except for the rank or position of fire chief and for no more than 2 positions that rank immediately below that of the chief rank which are appointed positions pursuant to the Fire Department Promotion Act.
    No person who is 35 years of age or older shall be eligible to take an examination for a position as a firefighter unless the person has had previous employment status as a firefighter in the regularly constituted fire department of the municipality, except as provided in this Section. The age limitation does not apply to:
        (1) any person previously employed as a full-time
firefighter in a regularly constituted fire department of (i) any municipality or fire protection district located in Illinois, (ii) a fire protection district whose obligations were assumed by a municipality under Section 21 of the Fire Protection District Act, or (iii) a municipality whose obligations were taken over by a fire protection district,
        (2) any person who has served a municipality as a
regularly enrolled volunteer, paid-on-call, or part-time firefighter, or
        (3) any person who turned 35 while serving as a
member of the active or reserve components of any of the branches of the Armed Forces of the United States or the National Guard of any state, whose service was characterized as honorable or under honorable, if separated from the military, and is currently under the age of 40.
    No person who is under 21 years of age shall be eligible for employment as a firefighter.
    No applicant shall be examined concerning his or her political or religious opinions or affiliations. The examinations shall be conducted by the commissioners of the municipality or their designees and agents.
    No municipality shall require that any firefighter appointed to the lowest rank serve a probationary employment period of longer than one year of actual active employment, which may exclude periods of training, or injury or illness leaves, including duty related leave, in excess of 30 calendar days. Notwithstanding anything to the contrary in this Section, the probationary employment period limitation may be extended for a firefighter who is required, as a condition of employment, to be a licensed paramedic, during which time the sole reason that a firefighter may be discharged without a hearing is for failing to meet the requirements for paramedic licensure.
    In the event that any applicant who has been found eligible for appointment and whose name has been placed upon the final eligibility register provided for in this Section has not been appointed to a firefighter position within one year after the date of his or her physical ability examination, the commission may cause a second examination to be made of that applicant's physical ability prior to his or her appointment. If, after the second examination, the physical ability of the applicant shall be found to be less than the minimum standard fixed by the rules of the commission, the applicant shall not be appointed. The applicant's name may be retained upon the register of candidates eligible for appointment and when next reached for certification and appointment that applicant may be again examined as provided in this Section, and if the physical ability of that applicant is found to be less than the minimum standard fixed by the rules of the commission, the applicant shall not be appointed, and the name of the applicant shall be removed from the register.
    (d) Notice, examination, and testing components. Notice of the time, place, general scope, merit criteria for any subjective component, and fee of every examination shall be given by the commission, by a publication at least 2 weeks preceding the examination: (i) in one or more newspapers published in the municipality, or if no newspaper is published therein, then in one or more newspapers with a general circulation within the municipality, or (ii) on the municipality's Internet website. Additional notice of the examination may be given as the commission shall prescribe.
    The examination and qualifying standards for employment of firefighters shall be based on: mental aptitude, physical ability, preferences, moral character, and health. The mental aptitude, physical ability, and preference components shall determine an applicant's qualification for and placement on the final register of eligibles. The examination may also include a subjective component based on merit criteria as determined by the commission. Scores from the examination must be made available to the public.
    (e) Mental aptitude. No person who does not possess at least a high school diploma or an equivalent high school education shall be placed on a register of eligibles. Examination of an applicant's mental aptitude shall be based upon a written examination. The examination shall be practical in character and relate to those matters that fairly test the capacity of the persons examined to discharge the duties performed by members of a fire department. Written examinations shall be administered in a manner that ensures the security and accuracy of the scores achieved.
    (f) Physical ability. All candidates shall be required to undergo an examination of their physical ability to perform the essential functions included in the duties they may be called upon to perform as a member of a fire department. For the purposes of this Section, essential functions of the job are functions associated with duties that a firefighter may be called upon to perform in response to emergency calls. The frequency of the occurrence of those duties as part of the fire department's regular routine shall not be a controlling factor in the design of examination criteria or evolutions selected for testing. These physical examinations shall be open, competitive, and based on industry standards designed to test each applicant's physical abilities in the following dimensions:
        (1) Muscular strength to perform tasks and evolutions
that may be required in the performance of duties including grip strength, leg strength, and arm strength. Tests shall be conducted under anaerobic as well as aerobic conditions to test both the candidate's speed and endurance in performing tasks and evolutions. Tasks tested may be based on standards developed, or approved, by the local appointing authority.
        (2) The ability to climb ladders, operate from
heights, walk or crawl in the dark along narrow and uneven surfaces, and operate in proximity to hazardous environments.
        (3) The ability to carry out critical,
time-sensitive, and complex problem solving during physical exertion in stressful and hazardous environments. The testing environment may be hot and dark with tightly enclosed spaces, flashing lights, sirens, and other distractions.
    The tests utilized to measure each applicant's capabilities in each of these dimensions may be tests based on industry standards currently in use or equivalent tests approved by the Joint Labor-Management Committee of the Office of the State Fire Marshal.
    Physical ability examinations administered under this Section shall be conducted with a reasonable number of proctors and monitors, open to the public, and subject to reasonable regulations of the commission.
    (g) Scoring of examination components. Appointing authorities may create a preliminary eligibility register. A person shall be placed on the list based upon his or her passage of the written examination or the passage of the written examination and the physical ability component. Passage of the written examination means attaining the minimum score set by the commission. Minimum scores should be set by the commission so as to demonstrate a candidate's ability to perform the essential functions of the job. The minimum score set by the commission shall be supported by appropriate validation evidence and shall comply with all applicable State and federal laws. The appointing authority may conduct the physical ability component and any subjective components subsequent to the posting of the preliminary eligibility register.
    The examination components for an initial eligibility register shall be graded on a 100-point scale. A person's position on the list shall be determined by the following: (i) the person's score on the written examination, (ii) the person successfully passing the physical ability component, and (iii) the person's results on any subjective component as described in subsection (d).
    In order to qualify for placement on the final eligibility register, an applicant's score on the written examination, before any applicable preference points or subjective points are applied, shall be at or above the minimum score as set by the commission. The local appointing authority may prescribe the score to qualify for placement on the final eligibility register, but the score shall not be less than the minimum score set by the commission.
    The commission shall prepare and keep a register of persons whose total score is not less than the minimum score for passage and who have passed the physical ability examination. These persons shall take rank upon the register as candidates in the order of their relative excellence based on the highest to the lowest total points scored on the mental aptitude, subjective component, and preference components of the test administered in accordance with this Section. No more than 60 days after each examination, an initial eligibility list shall be posted by the commission. The list shall include the final grades of the candidates without reference to priority of the time of examination and subject to claim for preference credit.
    Commissions may conduct additional examinations, including without limitation a polygraph test, after a final eligibility register is established and before it expires with the candidates ranked by total score without regard to date of examination. No more than 60 days after each examination, an initial eligibility list shall be posted by the commission showing the final grades of the candidates without reference to priority of time of examination and subject to claim for preference credit.
    (h) Preferences. The following are preferences:
        (1) Veteran preference. Persons who were engaged in
the military service of the United States for a period of at least one year of active duty and who were honorably discharged therefrom, or who are now or have been members on inactive or reserve duty in such military or naval service, shall be preferred for appointment to and employment with the fire department of an affected department.
        (2) Fire cadet preference. Persons who have
successfully completed 2 years of study in fire techniques or cadet training within a cadet program established under the rules of the Joint Labor and Management Committee (JLMC), as defined in Section 50 of the Fire Department Promotion Act, may be preferred for appointment to and employment with the fire department.
        (3) Educational preference. Persons who have
successfully obtained an associate's degree in the field of fire service or emergency medical services, or a bachelor's degree from an accredited college or university may be preferred for appointment to and employment with the fire department.
        (4) Paramedic preference. Persons who have obtained a
license as a paramedic shall be preferred for appointment to and employment with the fire department of an affected department providing emergency medical services.
        (5) Experience preference. All persons employed by a
municipality who have been paid-on-call or part-time certified Firefighter II, State of Illinois or nationally licensed EMT, EMT-I, A-EMT, or any combination of those capacities shall be awarded 0.5 point for each year of successful service in one or more of those capacities, up to a maximum of 5 points. Certified Firefighter III and State of Illinois or nationally licensed paramedics shall be awarded one point per year up to a maximum of 5 points. Applicants from outside the municipality who were employed as full-time firefighters or firefighter-paramedics by a fire protection district or another municipality for at least 2 years shall be awarded 5 experience preference points. These additional points presuppose a rating scale totaling 100 points available for the eligibility list. If more or fewer points are used in the rating scale for the eligibility list, the points awarded under this subsection shall be increased or decreased by a factor equal to the total possible points available for the examination divided by 100.
        Upon request by the commission, the governing body of
the municipality or in the case of applicants from outside the municipality the governing body of any fire protection district or any other municipality shall certify to the commission, within 10 days after the request, the number of years of successful paid-on-call, part-time, or full-time service of any person. A candidate may not receive the full amount of preference points under this subsection if the amount of points awarded would place the candidate before a veteran on the eligibility list. If more than one candidate receiving experience preference points is prevented from receiving all of their points due to not being allowed to pass a veteran, the candidates shall be placed on the list below the veteran in rank order based on the totals received if all points under this subsection were to be awarded. Any remaining ties on the list shall be determined by lot.
        (6) Residency preference. Applicants whose principal
residence is located within the fire department's jurisdiction shall be preferred for appointment to and employment with the fire department.
        (7) Additional preferences. Up to 5 additional
preference points may be awarded for unique categories based on an applicant's experience or background as identified by the commission.
        (7.5) Apprentice preferences. A person who has
performed fire suppression service for a department as a firefighter apprentice and otherwise meets the qualifications for original appointment as a firefighter specified in this Section is eligible to be awarded up to 20 preference points. To qualify for preference points, an applicant shall have completed a minimum of 600 hours of fire suppression work on a regular shift for the affected fire department over a 12-month period. The fire suppression work must be in accordance with Section 10-2.1-4 of this Division and the terms established by a Joint Apprenticeship Committee included in a collective bargaining agreement agreed between the employer and its certified bargaining agent. An eligible applicant must apply to the Joint Apprenticeship Committee for preference points under this item. The Joint Apprenticeship Committee shall evaluate the merit of the applicant's performance, determine the preference points to be awarded, and certify the amount of points awarded to the commissioners. The commissioners may add the certified preference points to the final grades achieved by the applicant on the other components of the examination.
        (8) Scoring of preferences. The commission may give
preference for original appointment to persons designated in item (1) by adding to the final grade that they receive 5 points for the recognized preference achieved. The commission may give preference for original appointment to persons designated in item (7.5) by adding to the final grade the amount of points designated by the Joint Apprenticeship Committee as defined in item (7.5). The commission shall determine the number of preference points for each category, except items (1) and (7.5). The number of preference points for each category shall range from 0 to 5, except item (7.5). In determining the number of preference points, the commission shall prescribe that if a candidate earns the maximum number of preference points in all categories except item (7.5), that number may not be less than 10 nor more than 30. The commission shall give preference for original appointment to persons designated in items (2) through (7) by adding the requisite number of points to the final grade for each recognized preference achieved. The numerical result thus attained shall be applied by the commission in determining the final eligibility list and appointment from the eligibility list. The local appointing authority may prescribe the total number of preference points awarded under this Section, but the total number of preference points, except item (7.5), shall not be less than 10 points or more than 30 points. Apprentice preference points may be added in addition to other preference points awarded by the commission.
    No person entitled to any preference shall be required to claim the credit before any examination held under the provisions of this Section, but the preference may be given after the posting or publication of the initial eligibility list or register at the request of a person entitled to a credit before any certification or appointments are made from the eligibility register, upon the furnishing of verifiable evidence and proof of qualifying preference credit. Candidates who are eligible for preference credit may make a claim in writing within 10 days after the posting of the initial eligibility list, or the claim may be deemed waived. Final eligibility registers may be established after the awarding of verified preference points. However, apprentice preference credit earned subsequent to the establishment of the final eligibility register may be applied to the applicant's score upon certification by the Joint Apprenticeship Committee to the commission and the rank order of candidates on the final eligibility register shall be adjusted accordingly. All employment shall be subject to the commission's initial hire background review, including, but not limited to, criminal history, employment history, moral character, oral examination, and medical and psychological examinations, all on a pass-fail basis. The medical and psychological examinations must be conducted last, and may only be performed after a conditional offer of employment has been extended.
    Any person placed on an eligibility list who exceeds the age requirement before being appointed to a fire department shall remain eligible for appointment until the list is abolished, or his or her name has been on the list for a period of 2 years. No person who has attained the age of 35 years shall be inducted into a fire department, except as otherwise provided in this Section.
    The commission shall strike off the names of candidates for original appointment after the names have been on the list for more than 2 years.
    (i) Moral character. No person shall be appointed to a fire department unless he or she is a person of good character; not a habitual drunkard, a gambler, or a person who has been convicted of a felony or a crime involving moral turpitude. However, no person shall be disqualified from appointment to the fire department because of the person's record of misdemeanor convictions except those under Sections 11-6, 11-7, 11-9, 11-14, 11-15, 11-17, 11-18, 11-19, 12-2, 12-6, 12-15, 14-4, 16-1, 21.1-3, 24-3.1, 24-5, 25-1, 28-3, 31-1, 31-4, 31-6, 31-7, 32-1, 32-2, 32-3, 32-4, 32-8, and paragraphs (1), (6), and (8) of subsection (a) of Section 24-1 of the Criminal Code of 1961 or the Criminal Code of 2012, or arrest for any cause without conviction thereon. Any such person who is in the department may be removed on charges brought for violating this subsection and after a trial as hereinafter provided.
    A classifiable set of the fingerprints of every person who is offered employment as a certificated member of an affected fire department whether with or without compensation, shall be furnished to the Illinois State Police and to the Federal Bureau of Investigation by the commission.
    Whenever a commission is authorized or required by law to consider some aspect of criminal history record information for the purpose of carrying out its statutory powers and responsibilities, then, upon request and payment of fees in conformance with the requirements of Section 2605-400 of the Illinois State Police Law of the Civil Administrative Code of Illinois, the Illinois State Police is authorized to furnish, pursuant to positive identification, the information contained in State files as is necessary to fulfill the request.
    (j) Temporary appointments. In order to prevent a stoppage of public business, to meet extraordinary exigencies, or to prevent material impairment of the fire department, the commission may make temporary appointments, to remain in force only until regular appointments are made under the provisions of this Division, but never to exceed 60 days. No temporary appointment of any one person shall be made more than twice in any calendar year.
    (k) A person who knowingly divulges or receives test questions or answers before a written examination, or otherwise knowingly violates or subverts any requirement of this Section, commits a violation of this Section and may be subject to charges for official misconduct.
    A person who is the knowing recipient of test information in advance of the examination shall be disqualified from the examination or discharged from the position to which he or she was appointed, as applicable, and otherwise subjected to disciplinary actions.
(Source: P.A. 101-489, eff. 8-23-19; 102-375, eff. 8-13-21; 102-538, eff. 8-20-21; 102-558, eff. 8-20-21; 102-813, eff. 5-13-22.)