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  • Megann Horstead

Joliet Fire Department hires first female firefighter


The Joliet Fire Department recruited its first female firefighter out of its most recent batch of new hires.

“We had eight individuals, and one female firefighter, and that was neat,” Fire Chief Joe Formhals said. “That will be a good opportunity. There are many female firefighters across the nation. She comes with a great background. She has police and military experience, and she did a brief stint with the Morris Fire Protection District.”

New to the ranks are Anthony Doukas, Carissa Smith, Kevin McCool, Chris Gotter, James Ryan, David Ivnik, Kyle Snelten and Frank Cavallone. They were recruited out of a pool of approximately 650 applicants.

Formhals said the new hires all bring something unique to help the fire department with its mission to serve the public.

“They’ll bring youth, and they’ll help with overtime costs,” Formhals said. “We’ve been short on a day-to-day basis. We have so much equipment and so many stations, we end up having to hire overtime. We anticipate those will fall.”

Each new recruit was sworn in with the Oath of Office and each signed "The Book," according to the Joliet Fire Department. Every firefighter that has started with the Joliet Fire Department since1908 has signed "The Book" and added their previous profession.

“Attitude and behavior has to reflect all of the community,” Formhals said. “You’re held to a higher standard as a public official and that must be impressed on. You’re a member of the department and that’s how you’ll be portrayed.”

The fire department prides itself on maintaining a team atmosphere and promoting teamwork.

Some of the new hires will need to complete basic firefighter training in the fire academy, while others already have the certification. They’re also required to complete all necessary state testing and attain paramedic certification.

Including the latest new hires, the fire department has 202 budgeted firefighters out of a possible 209. The last recruitment in late 2017 resulted in one new hire out of a possible three.

Formhals said it’s been a couple years since the fire department recruited a sizeable batch of firefighters.

“The previous city manager had been a little reluctant,” Formhals said. “They were concerned for the [local government distributive fund revenue dollars. The State of Illinois, they weren’t going to be passed back to Joliet. If we didn’t get [that approximate $6 million], he was apprehensive about hiring and having to potentially lay them off.”

The fire department is anticipating a couple of retirements, Formhals said. Another crop of new hires is anticipated to be ready by early summer/fall 2018.

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