SPRINGFIELD – A new law led by State Senator Patrick Joyce to help solve Illinois’ firefighter shortage will go into effect Jan. 1.

“Firefighters, both full-time and volunteer, are essential first responders, and we cannot afford to continue to see declining numbers in these positions,” said Joyce (D-Essex). “This law is a step in the right direction to help tackle the shortage we have seen for almost a decade.”

The new law creates the Firefighter Training Leave of Absence Act, which allows state employees leave from their job to attend firefighter training.

Fire departments across the state have faced a shortage of new recruits and volunteer firefighters in recent years. Along with Senate Bill 1611 to help combat this issue, Joyce also sponsored Senate Joint Resolution 7, which created the Recruiting and Retaining Public Employee Firefighters and Paramedics Task Force to identify solutions to the shortage of eligible applicants for the positions.

“Not everyone can easily take the time off they need to complete the training courses to become a volunteer firefighter,” said Joyce. “I’m hopeful this law will encourage more people to complete the training so we can begin to see more recruits and help communities feel safe.”

Senate Bill 1611 takes effect Jan. 1, 2024.