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House of Representatives
Session of 2017 - 2018 Regular Session


Posted: September 8, 2017 02:06 PM
From: Representative Stephen Barrar
To: All House members
Subject: Fire and EMS Social Media Policy
In the near future I plan to introduce legislation that requires Fire and EMS companies to establish a social media policy that would apply to all members, volunteers and employees as a condition to receive a Fire or EMS grant under the current $30 million grant program.

My proposal to amend Chapter 78 of Title 35 (Health and Safety) is in response to the rapid increase of volunteer fire personnel uploading images and recordings from emergency scenes to personal social media accounts. There is another trend of websites called “FireWire,” that shares information about local emergencies. These websites are administrated by volunteer firefighters within the Commonwealth and share hundreds of pictures and videos from scenes of fires, car accidents, and other disasters.

Under current law, fire grant eligibility requirements include:
  • Responded to at least 10 fires a year
  • Be active participants in the Pennsylvania Fire Information Reporting System

For EMS grant eligibility:
  • EMS companies must be designated by a municipality as the primary EMS provider.
  • Must be located in the Commonwealth and licensed by the Department of Health as a BLS or ALS service.

My proposal simply adds an additional eligibility requirement that fire and EMS companies implement a social media policy.

Implementing social media policies containing provisions related to best practices will provide volunteers, members and employees of fire and EMS companies a clear understanding of what can be posted while delineating what is specifically prohibited regarding audio or video recordings of emergencies.

My proposed legislation is designed to protect volunteers, members, and employees of fire and EMS companies from potential law suits regarding media content posted online, and will assist in maintaining a professional image for the fire or EMS companies. Furthermore, my legislation will help to protect victims during their most vulnerable times.

Please consider joining me in sponsoring this legislation to protect our first responders as well as victims of emergencies.

Introduced as HB1835