|Posted:||December 8, 2022 02:09 PM|
|From:||Senator Michele Brooks|
|To:||All Senate members|
|Subject:||Firefighter Training Pilot Program for High School Students|
|In the near future, I plan to reintroduce Senate Bill 83 of last session, which creates a pilot program for community colleges and universities in the PA State System of Higher Education (PASSHE) to give interested high school students training in firefighting. This legislation passed the Senate unanimously in April 2021, but was not considered by the full House before the close of session.
As documented in the SR 6 report, Pennsylvania is facing a severe shortage of volunteer firefighters, with the current number of volunteers down to less than 15% of the number of volunteers in the 1970s. By encouraging school districts to partner with institutions of higher education, we can help recruit and retain firefighters at a time when first responders are desperately needed.
This legislation would award three grants of $150,000 each, which would be distributed to three community colleges or PASSHE schools in the Commonwealth, one in the eastern, central, and western parts of the state. The grants will be used to establish fire training programs for students in high school during the school year, with the hope they will remain firefighters for years to come.
A similar program for EMS training was implemented in Act 104 of 2022, but for no less than $50,000 per institution of higher education, and with proposals being reviewed by the Bureau of Emergency Medical Services of the Department of Health, rather than the State Fire Commissioner. Though nothing in Act 104 of 2022 prohibits an institution of higher education from incorporating fire instruction into the pilot program, it is not guaranteed.
Senate Bill 83 was previously cosponsored by Senators Martin, Muth, Scavello, Aument, Stefano, J. Ward, Tartaglione, Pittman, Baker, Regan, Costa, K. Ward, Kane and L. Williams.
Please join me in cosponsoring this legislation, as we take steps to support and expand our volunteer firefighter community. Please do not hesitate to contact my office with any questions. Thank you.
Introduced as SB114