Sen. Patrick Joyce

SPRINGFIELD – State employees will now be able to take time off for firefighter training thanks to a new law sponsored by State Senator Patrick Joyce.

“There are many communities in the state that rely on volunteer firefighters,” said Joyce (D-Essex). “If we continue to see a shortage in the number of volunteer firefighters, we are leaving these communities extremely vulnerable and without the immediate assistance they need.”

Fire departments across the state have faced a shortage of new recruits and volunteer firefighters in recent years. The new law aims to combat these shortages to give people the opportunity to undergo firefighter training courses by creating the Firefighter Training Leave of Absence Act. This will allow state employees to take a leave from their job to attend firefighter training.

“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.”

Senate Bill 1611 was signed Friday and takes effect Jan. 1, 2024.