Chicago Fire Exam, March 2006
Below is an article from the Chicago Sun Times that states the next Chicago Fire exam will be given in March of 2006.
New exam in works for Chicago firefighters
Wednesday, October 19, 2005
By Fran Spielman
Special to the Daily Southtown
Chicago City Hall is finalizing plans to hold the city's first firefighters entrance exam in more than a decade to replace a disputed eligibility list that has raised the average age of recruits to nearly 38, an influential alderman says.
Top mayoral aides believe the graying of rookie firefighters is at least partly to blame for the $13.2 million in overtime racked up by the Chicago Fire Department through Sept. 30, up from $11.6 million during the same period a year ago.
Even before the new exam is scheduled, Fire Commissioner Cortez Trotter has managed to cut his department's monthly overtime bill in half — from $1.9 million in April to $853,277 in September.
Aides credit the elimination of one of the city's seven fire districts and increased scrutiny of firefighters on medical leave. Overtime is expected to be further reduced when city hall starts a new round of promotions to battalion chief after posting results from a recent exam. Some battalion chiefs had already received more than $24,000 in overtime through Aug. 31 of this year.
Ald. Isaac Carothers (29th), chairman of the city council's police and fire committee, said the new firefighters entrance exam is expected to be held next year, possibly sometime in March.
"We're getting to the point where people are just too old. When you try to hire them, you can't even find them. ... We need to give opportunities to some of these young people who want to be firefighters in Chicago. They can't have opportunities if we don't have an exam," Carothers said.
Some community leaders have urged the city to scrap the written exam entirely to avoid a repeat of the decade of litigation after the 1995 firefighters entrance exam.
But Carothers said, "I have confidence that the new commissioner will put together an exam that will be fair and, hopefully, get the desired result of having more diversity in the fire department. The commissioner has done a great job of diversifying management. But we need to diversify the rank-and-file."
Drafted by an African-American with an eye toward diversifying a Chicago Fire Department with a documented history of discrimination, the 1995 firefighters exam drew more than 26,000 applicants. When the results for minorities were disappointing, the city established a cut-off score of 89 and started randomly hiring from the top 1,800 "well-qualified" candidates.
In a landmark ruling that could cost Chicago taxpayers $80 million, a federal judge ruled earlier this year that the city's handling of the exam discriminated against African-Americans because it had the effect of perpetuating the predominantly white status quo since 78 percent of those "well-qualified" candidates were white. Not until the fall of 2002 did the city start hiring randomly from among the 20,200 candidates deemed "qualified" with scores of 65 and above.
Fire Department spokesman Larry Langford acknowledged the inherent problems caused by a hiring list 10 years old.
Not only are recruits getting older — the average age is now 37.9 years — but if they're too old when they're hired, they're also more likely to "wash out" of the fire academy before completing training, wasting taxpayers money. And if they're too old when they start, the city won't get 20 years work out of them before they hit the mandatory retirement age of 63.
"To start out being a firefighter, 38 is old. We need to get some younger people in here," Langford said.
Don McNea Fire School conducted prep classes for the last Chicago fire exam in 1995. We will again be conducting prep classes for the 2006 exam. If you would like to be contacted by e-mail of the specifics of the exam and when our prep classes will be held, go to the link below and enter your e-mail address. Good luck !!