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Pennsylvania House of Representatives
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House of Representatives
Session of 2015 - 2016 Regular Session

MEMORANDUM

Posted: January 28, 2015 10:00 AM
From: Representative Kate Harper
To: All House members
Subject: Reducing standby charges for volunteer fire companies, nonprofit rescue squads and nonprofit ambulance services that own or rent structures equipped with automatic fire protection systems
 
The General Assembly is continuously debating and considering legislation designed to assist volunteer fire companies and nonprofit ambulance services that operate across the Commonwealth. As a result of these many debates, several measures have been enacted which have eased the financial, regulatory and administrative requirements of these volunteers and their companies. More can be done to assist these volunteers as they struggle to protect our communities.

An issue in my district has caused me to have legislation drafted to reduce the monthly payments that volunteer fire companies, nonprofit rescue squads and nonprofit ambulance services have to pay, as it relates to the operation of an automatic fire protection sprinkler system. This legislation was previously introduced as HB 202 (2013-2014.) Currently, owners of non-residential buildings that contain an automatic fire protection system are made to pay a standby charge. Essentially, a standby charge is a large monetary fee payable annually which is used so that a large amount of water is ready in the event that the automatic fire protection system is triggered within a non-residential building.

In the case of the Harmonville Fire company, which installed the sprinkler system to set a good example for commercial property owners in their township, the standby charge for having the system (even if never used) amounts to $2400 per year or the profit on the sale of 5,000 hoagies. With this in mind, I will be introducing legislation amending Title 66 to permit volunteer fire companies, nonprofit rescue squads and nonprofit ambulance services that own or rent structures equipped with an automatic fire protection system, to pay a reduced rate of 25% of the cost of service for the fire protection service. The remaining 75% will be subsidized by the public utility’s residential and commercial rate payers at pennies per year in the same area served by the volunteer companies.



Introduced as HB1040