Gov. Pat Quinn was joined Tuesday by State Fire Marshal Larry Matkaitis and firefighters from across the state to pay tribute to two firefighters who died in the line of duty and recognize 44 firefighters or departments for acts of bravery in their communities.
U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Illinois), accompanied by state Sens. Jason Barickman and Bill Brady, state Rep. Dan Brady and Pat Devaney, president of the Associated Fire Fighters of Illinois (AFFI), Friday called on Gov. Pat Quinn to act on a bipartisan action to allow the state fire marshal to offer automatic reciprocity to veterans and members of the active duty, reserve and National Guard that possess Department of Defense-issued firefighter certifications.
At least 38 states nationwide, including Iowa, Missouri and Indiana, offer automatic reciprocity for those that possess these DOD-issued certifications. The AFFI represents more than 15,000 professional firefighters in 211 Illinois communities.
“Illinois is home to more than 700,000 veterans, a number of whom already possess the life-saving skills and training required to be a firefighter, but who are forced to re-certify due to our state’s outdated reciprocity rules,” Kirk said. “I urge Governor Quinn to accept this reciprocity request so that the men and women who are returning home from service are able to make a smooth and successful transition into civilian life.”
Friday, Senator Kirk and U.S. Reps. Rodney Davis (R-Illinois), Randy Hultgren (R-Illinois), Adam Kinzinger (R-Illinois), Aaron Schock (R-Illinois) and John Shimkus (R-Illinois) sent a letter to Quinn requesting he take action by executive order. Current rules require those holding certifications to challenge the tests through written and practical exams. A change in the reciprocity requirements would ensure that the men and women who already possess these skills and certifications are not subject to additional paperwork and bureaucracy as they work to rejoin the workforce.