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Civil service commission to schedule third testing cycle for 2019

Posted on May 17, 2019

By Tia Lyons
Staff Writer

The El Dorado Civil Service Commission is gearing up for another round of civil service exams this year, months ahead of its regular fall testing cycle.

ECSC Chairman Toddy Pitard said commissioners have tentatively scheduled the upcoming tests for July 13 to help fill vacant slots for uniformed personnel within the city’s police and fire departments.

Pitard said commissioners learned of the open positions during a meeting earlier this week.

The ECSC typically administers civil service exams twice a year, once in the spring and once in the fall.

Promotions — as a result of spring exams that were administered last month —, resignations and retirements have prompted the need for another round of testing before the fall, Pitard said.

In recent years, commissioners have periodically included an additional testing cycle during the year in response to requests by the police and fire departments, each of whom have stepped up efforts to boost recruitment and retention rates.

The heads of both departments have said the number of people who are seeking jobs in the civil service sector is shrinking — a trend with which fire service and law enforcement agencies are grappling nationwide.

“(Police Chief Kenny Hickman and Fire Chief Chad Mosby) both asked if we would move testing up to July so they can get some help. We won’t be able to wait until the fall,” Pitard said.

Pitard said the police department has four openings.

After spring civil service exams wrapped up April 4, Hickman gave commissioners advance notice of positions that would still be available, saying then that only one candidate had successfully completed all three phases of testing — written and oral exams and physical agility.

At the time, Hickman said two positions remained open for entry level candidates and a third opening was anticipated, pending a promotional ceremony for new three sergeants and a lieutenant.

Mosby said Thursday there are three openings within the El Dorado Fire Department, explaining that a fourth opening was recently filled when he offered a job to a certified candidate who remained on the eligibility list from the April exams.

The list is good for a year after the tests are certified by the ECSC.

Mosby also said he intends to speak with another certified candidate from the eligibility list — which could possibly lead to another vacancy being filled.

Last month, Mosby told commissioners that eight candidates passed the civil service exam for the EFD, adding that there were six openings within the fire department at the time.

Eligible candidates who accepted job offers from the EFD were to be sent to the Arkansas Fire Training Academy at Southern Arkansas University Tech in East Camden for a 10-week training course.

Only one of the eligible candidates remains in the academy, the fire chief said Thursday.

“Occasionally, we get people that go through the initial hiring process and for whatever reasons, there are issues as to why they’re not with us anymore,” Mosby said.

He previously said it is not uncommon for candidates to drop out of the fire academy once they begin training.

Mosby emphasized that the EFD is enthusiastically taking advantage of a new state law that was passed in March and allows 18-year-olds to take the civil service exam.

The minimum age requirement for Arkansas firefighters was lowered from 21 to 18.

Mosby said the new law will help with recruiting potential candidates.

“We will be hiring 18-year-olds this year. You have to be 18 during the testing cycle and you have to have a high school diploma and be able to pass a background check, a drug test and a medical evaluation,” the fire chief said.

He said the EFD has set its sights on July 13 for written and physical agility tests and July 15 for oral interviews for candidates who successfully complete the first two phases of testing.

The deadline to apply is July 5.

For more information, call the fire department at 870-881-4855 or visit the EFD’s Facebook page. Also, call the El Dorado Police Department at 870-881-4800.

Tia Lyons may be contacted at 870-862-6611 or