Senate Approves Brooks’ Bill to Attract High School Students to Firefighting

HARRISBURG April 28, 2021 –In her ongoing efforts to help recruit and retain firefighters, Sen. Michele Brooks introduced legislation designed to increase the ranks of volunteer firefighters through more convenient and accessible training opportunities at local community colleges and universities.  That legislation passed the Senate today by a unanimous vote.

“Many of our firefighters have devoted a lifetime to protecting our communities, but they are nearing retirement,” Brooks said.  “We are looking to the next generations for help, and are reaching out to high school students who are able to answer the call in the future.”  

To address the growing shortage of firefighters, Senate Bill 83 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 and rural regional 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 high school students who are interested in joining our local fire departments to acquire training at a convenient location,” Brooks said. “It is my hope that they will stay active as firefighters once they are trained and ready to serve.  So often, resources are offered far from home, so this legislation requires that each region offer opportunities locally.”

“By making training programs like this more accessible to students, it is my hope that we can help our fire departments rebuild their numbers,” Brooks added.  “Providing training to high school students in a close, convenient location is one way to attract first responders. If this pilot program is a success, we hope to replicate it, so that we can fill the ranks of those who answer the call day and night to protect and serve our communities.” 

Brooks has also authored legislation to help firefighters through online training, tax credits for firefighters, and expanded grant funding.

“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 83 now will be sent to the House of Representatives for their consideration.

Contact: Diane McNaughton                            (717) 787-1322    

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