HARRISBURG –June 22, 2020 –After serving on a blue-ribbon panel dedicated to promoting firefighter recruitment and retention, and in her ongoing efforts to help Pennsylvania’s fire departments, Sen. Michele Brooks introduced legislation to help increase the ranks of volunteer firefighters through more convenient and accessible training opportunities at local schools and universities.
Her bill, Senate Bill 331, passed the Senate today by a unanimous vote.
“We all are aware that the number of members in our local fire departments has decreased significantly, falling from a high of 300,000 just a few decades ago, to 38,000 today,” Sen. Brooks said. “Unfortunately, many of our firefighters are nearing retirement, and younger firefighters who can answer the call in the future are in short supply.”
To address the growing shortage, Senate Bill 331 creates a firefighter training pilot program, to allow universities in the State System of Higher Education (PASSHE), such as Edinboro and Clarion, along with community colleges, to partner with local high schools and career and technical schools to provide firefighter training to interested high school students.
“This legislation is designed to help our younger students who are interested in joining our local fire departments to acquire training at a much more convenient and accessible location than what is currently offered,” Brooks said.
The bill builds upon the success of Harrisburg Area Community College, which has successfully partnered with local high schools for fire training.
“By making training programs like this more accessible, it is my hope that we can take the opportunity to help our fire departments rebuild their dwindling numbers,” Brooks added. “Providing training to young students in a close and convenient location is one way we can attract first responders, who answer the call day and night to protect and serve our communities.”
“Whenever we can help our local fire departments, whether it’s by passing legislation or supporting their local fundraisers, we help our local heroes, who, through the generations, have blessed us with their service, and continue to answer the call around-the-clock to protect our families and properties. Imagine if this local life-saving service disappeared in our communities,” Brooks added.
Senate Bill 331 now will be sent to the House of Representatives for their consideration.
Contact: Diane McNaughton (717) 787-1322 firstname.lastname@example.org