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House of Representatives
Session of 2023 - 2024 Regular Session


Posted: April 14, 2023 02:06 PM
From: Representative Robert Leadbeter and Rep. David H. Rowe, Rep. Joe Hamm
To: All House members
Subject: Municipal Volunteer EMC Training Standards Requirements
In the near future, we will be introducing legislation amending Section 7502 of Title 35 (Health and Safety) to address an issue concerning local emergency management coordinators and the certification and recertification requirements the PA Emergency Management Agency (PEMA) has implemented, pursuant to PEMA Training Directive D2022-02.

PEMA has indicated that these changes are necessary under the National Qualification System administered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency. However, the NQS only contains guidelines on the qualification of personnel resources within the National Incident Management System (NIMS), standardized approaches to qualifying, certifying and credentialing personnel and tools for sharing resources seamlessly. The NQS is simply a way to ensure personnel being deployed for emergency management purposes have the minimum capabilities to perform the duties they may be assigned to execute.

Local emergency management coordinators who serve our local municipalities, many of them volunteers, are among the most important individuals serving our commonwealth’s emergency management and response system. 

Emergency management coordinators must be competent and qualified to prepare for, respond to and recover from disasters adequately and effectively.  It is important for them to coordinate with multiple agencies in order to keep our communities as safe as possible from disaster emergencies of any kind. 

However, PEMA has initiated and implemented new training requirements for both certification and recertification that has negatively impacted many local emergency management coordinators.  These changes may effectively keep individuals from wanting to become local coordinators; thereby, further frustrating the emergency management system at the local level.

For example, PEMA has effectively removed lower-level certifications that have worked in the past only to be replaced by a professional level certification requiring more extensive training and continuing education; continuing education that will require 75 hours of training every five years.  This continuing education requirement amounts to 15 hours every year for the five year period.  This level of training is more suited for our county level emergency management coordinators and not our local level volunteers.

To that end, we are proposing to make the following changes at a minimum:
  • The current levels of Professional, Advanced, and Associate certification prior to the issuance of PEMA Training Directive D2022-02 of July 5, 2022, shall be maintained by PEMA.
  • Local emergency management coordinators shall only be required to maintain an Associate or Advanced level certification.
  • Provide local municipalities with the authority to require their appointed local coordinator to be certified at the level the municipality prefers.
  • Remove the 75-hour training requirement for recertification and revert to the prior training requirements that existed before the issuance of Training Directive D2022-02 of July 5, 2022.
Last, but not least, the provisions stated above will not apply to a local coordinator who chooses to be deployable in a mutual aid capacity or to any local coordinator located in a recipient or subrecipient jurisdiction where receipt of federal Emergency Management Performance Grant funds are conditioned upon compliance with the NQS or if the provisions are inconsistent with federal law or regulation.

Our proposal will help to ensure that our municipalities who rely on many volunteers to fulfill the role of emergency management coordinators will not suffer from a staffing issue for emergency management planning and response.

Please join us in cosponsoring this very important public safety legislation to ensure we have staff available to lead our local emergency management programs and provide safety and security for local residents across the Commonwealth.

Introduced as HB1328