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Senate of Pennsylvania
Session of 2019 - 2020 Regular Session


Posted: January 7, 2019 03:47 PM
From: Senator Michele Brooks
To: All Senate members
Subject: Online Training for Firefighters
To help address the rapidly declining ranks of volunteer firefighters in Pennsylvania, I will soon be re-introducing legislation designed to make online training more readily available to current and prospective first responders.

This bill was Senate Bill 1079, which was reported from the Senate Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee and re-referred to the Senate Appropriations Committee. It was later folded into the larger Title 35 rewrite, offered by Sen. Randy Vulakovich last session.

SB 1079 of the 2017-2018 session was cosponsored by Senators Vulakovich, Browne, Mensch, Regan, Martin, Argall, Aument, Scarnati, White, Schwank, Killion, Costa, Reschenthaler, McGarrigle, Dinniman, Brewster, Yaw, Ward, and Folmer.

Studies on firefighter recruitment and retention challenges in Pennsylvania—which most recently, include the SR 6 Commission report-- have consistently shown that volunteers often point to training requirements and fundraising demands as factors that take a big toll on their time, money and availability to respond.

In the 1970's, Pennsylvania had more than 300,000 volunteer firefighters; today we have fewer than 40,000. Firefighters –and especially younger, tech-savvy firefighters-in-training --have often requested that a portion of their training be offered online, so that they have the opportunity to learn vital skills from the convenience of their own homes, at times most suitable for them and their busy schedules.

While some fire training must clearly be hands-on and in-person, many forms of training can be executed effectively online. My bill would make this online training, to be developed under the Office of State Fire Commissioner,

--Offered at no personal expense to firefighters, and
--Open to both volunteer and career firefighters.

Please join me in cosponsoring this legislation and helping to keep and attract firefighters who are expertly trained and dedicated to protecting property and lives in Pennsylvania.

Introduced as SB146