SPRINGFIELD – Illinois firefighters will be able to worry less about their retirement under a new law sponsored by State Senator Laura Ellman (D-Naperville) that was signed into law on Friday.

“This law creates a level playing field for all of Illinois’ firefighters,” Ellman said. “Prior law failed to address an oversight that would have caused hundreds of firefighters to lose out on time they’ve served when they retire.”

Previously, firefighters outside of Chicago who began work after 2011 were not allowed to purchase service credit after changing employers. The new law ensures all firefighters can purchase service credit if they move to a new employer who is covered by a different fire pension fund.

Members of a pension system earn service credits for time they’ve worked. A purchased service credit is an additional amount of service that pension system participants can purchase – or essentially move from one pension system to another – that can be used to calculate the amount a person will receive when they retire.

Many firefighters outside of Chicago can purchase credit when they switch employers, so their service at their prior employer will be factored into their retirement earnings. For example, a firefighter who moves from Peoria to Rockford might purchase their time in Peoria to move it to the Rockford system.

“Our firefighters risk their lives every day to protect our communities,” Ellman said. “This law will ensure they receive all the benefits they have earned and deserve when it comes time for them to retire.”

Senate Bill 167 is effective immediately.