ROCKFORD (WIFR) -- Former Rockford fire chief, Bill Robertson understands the challenges that come along with adding new firefighters to the department.
“I think when we limit ourselves to people who just simply live in the city, we're going to find that's going to do a lot of damage to the quality of our police and fire department", says Robertson, who now serves as a city alderman.
Rockford aldermen could soon decide whether to only hire local residents to the city's police and fire departments, requiring that applicants must live in the forest city for 6 months prior to employment.
"We need to look at that whole thing in light of city employees be it police, fire, public works or whatever it might be. Many people, many alderman including myself, feel like they ought to be living in the city”, says Alderman Frank Beach
Alderman Ventia Hervey suggested the new ordinance saying she would like to see first responders live in Rockford, not from surrounding cities. But one issue remains in the proposal.
Beach says, "After that six months, that person could still go live outside the city, so we need to deal with that problem first."
Alderman Robertson says he would support an ordinance that would keep employees living in the city after they are hired. He says local residents already have an advantage in the hiring process.
Robertson says, "The current fire and police commission have that in their rules. They can give kids who are applying additional points because they are residents of the city."
Alderman Hervey plans on introducing another requirement past the hiring phase which could keep employees living within the city as long as they work for the fire or police department.