ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — Recruiters will spend the next month searching for the “best of the best” to join the Rockford Fire Department.

Becoming a firefighter can pay up to $90,000, but those who are in the position say it’s not about the money: it’s about saving lives.

Recruitment is now open for the first time in two years.

Former teacher-turned-recruiter Bo Chaney said he never expected that he would trade his classroom for a firehouse, but after 18 years, he’s encouraging others to do the same.

“I am living proof of people who have dual jobs, living proof that you can take other professionals and turn them into firefighters,” Chaney said.

Candidates will take a written and physical ability test prior to a sit-down interview. Then, they will participate in a simulated search and rescue operation in full firefighter gear.

“We basically look for somebody who is athletic, somebody who wants to be part of a team,” Chaney said. “There is a lot of teamwork involved, and [we need] someone who is willing to learn.”

Kassidy Mack said she remembers going through the process when she first started, over a year ago.

“It is a little different than an application for a normal job, and then put your mind to it if it is something you really want to do,” she said.

Chaney said that while the search is on for new recruits, the department has become much more to him than a workplace, calling it his second home.

The application process begins in February and ends in November. Candidates have 30 days from now to apply.