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House of Representatives
Session of 2013 - 2014 Regular Session


Posted: January 3, 2013 09:05 AM
From: Representative Lynda Schlegel Culver
To: All House members
Subject: Reintroduction of Prior House Bill 2599-Exempting Volunteer Fire Companies as a Public Utility
In the near future, I plan to reintroduce legislation amending Title 66 (Public Utilities) to exempt volunteer fire companies from being considered a public utility.

Currently under Title 66, six types of entities are exempted from being classified as a public utility and as such are exempt from Public Utility Commission (PUC) jurisdiction. Under PUC's current rules and regulations, any entity defined as a public utility that supplies, offers, and/or provides any kind of service to the Commonwealth, must first be granted a certificate of public convenience in order to begin their service.

As you are aware, some volunteer fire companies provide water to local residents to fill their pools for a donation as a way to raise funds for the volunteer fire service. Since fire companies are not exempt as a public utility, they are unfortunately falling under PUC jurisdiction and with the absence of a certificate of public convenience, the corporation or individual may be subjected to penalties provided for under Section 3301 and 3302 of Title 66; should the PUC decide to cite the volunteer fire company. The fire company and its personnel may face a fine of $1,000 and could be charged with a misdemeanor of the third degree.

If the PUC decides to further pursue and/or issue citations to our fire companies, they may very well lose their emergency vehicle exemption. Therefore, by exempting volunteer fire companies from the PUC classification, they would not be subjected to the penalties provided for under Title 66 and other penalties for lack of a Commercial Driver's License due to commercial operations.

To that end, my proposal will add volunteer fire companies as an entity exempt from consideration as a public utility under Title 66. Fire companies depend on donations and contributions to provide the dedicated services for the well being of the citizens of our communities.

Our volunteer fire companies continue to struggle financially and continue to face recruitment and retention problems. The threat of PUC sanctions should not be added to their list of struggles.

I believe it is important that we add volunteer fire companies to the list of entities not included as a public utility and instead be considered what they truly are and that is as a volunteer organization providing a volunteer service.

Previous Cosponsors: Baker, Bloom, Brooks, R. Brown, Causer, Clymer, D.Costa, Davis, Denlinger, Ellis, Everett, Gabler, Gingrich, Grove, Harhai, Heffley, Hess, Hornaman, Kauffman, M.K. Keller, Knowles, Kortz, Kotik, Longietti, Major, Maloney, Masser, Millard, Miller, Pickett, Pyle, Readshaw, Saccone, Scavello, Stevenson, Swanger, Tallman, Toepel, and Murt.

Introduced as HB347