Recruits Wanted: The Rockford Fire Department is hiring


Some people say becoming a public servant is a calling. If that’s the case, now is the time to answer that call! The Rockford Fire Department is hiring!

The opportunity comes around only once every two years.

Clydale Hilson has been with the department for nearly four years.

“This is my neighborhood,” he said. “I grew up on Chesnut and Howard. I went to Auburn High School. I was in the gifted program. I run into people I grew up with, old teachers, old coaches from baseball, football. All types of things.”

One of the things that drew him to public service was the opportunity to help his community.

Hilson was a civilian member of the Rockford Police Department when he began the application process to become a firefighter.

“The schedule, the rapport with the public that I have as a fireman: I don’t think it gets any better than this,” he said.

The application process is now open and the window to apply is only open for 45 days.

“We will fill every open position that we have on the fire department for two years after that,” he said.

Every two years, a new class of applicants tries to make the cut.

Chad Erickson was on the list the last time testing opened. He remembers how emotional it was when he eventually got hired.

It was emotional for him “Because I had tested before. Didn’t make it, and went through the disappointment,” he said. “And then, getting the phone call and the notification… [It was] just surreal. Very exciting. It’s something I’ve been waiting a long time for.”

It also took two tries for Morgan Shaw to make the list.

“I was kind of second-guessing myself, but I knew this was really what I wanted to do. So, I gave it another shot, and here I am,” Shaw said.

Erickson and Shaw are both products of the Rock Valley College Fire Science Program. 

A college degree isn’t required for the job, but it helps.

It’s part of a points-based system that includes written and physical tests, interviews, and preference points for education, military service, or living within city limits.

“I think the most important qualities we’re looking for is people with compassion and empathy for the people in their community that need their help, daily,” said recruiter Randy James. “We can teach the firefighting, and we can teach the paramedic part of our job. The hardest part to teach is that compassionate side.”

To find out more about the application process, click here.

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