– The Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness (VAEP) Committee and its chairman, Rep. Steve Barrar (R-Chester/Delaware), discussed the calling of a special session of the General Assembly to address the fire and EMS delivery system, including the first responder shortages plaguing our communities.
Recently, the Pennsylvania State Association of Township Supervisors (PSATS) called for a special session in response to the overwhelming challenges affecting the Commonwealth’s emergency responders.
“The special session would complement the work already being done by the VAEP Committee and the Senate Resolution 6 Commission, further shining a light on this statewide problem – hopefully convincing those who are unaware of the crisis our communities are facing of its severity,” Barrar said.
In the 1970s, there were more than 300,000 volunteer firefighters and EMS personnel in Pennsylvania. Now, there are less than 50,000.
Committee members highlighted the need to make a notable change. One person pointed to the fact that members of the military do not pay federal taxes when they are deployed, and suggested implementing an equivalent benefit for volunteer first responders.
“There are a number of bills that have already received feedback from stakeholders, as was referenced in the committee meeting, but there are other ideas that are still being explored to be sure that their impact would be positive. This review should not be rushed, as tackling such a troubling problem deserves our best effort,” Barrar said.
Also during the committee meeting, the committee supported Senate Resolution 260
. It would extend the report deadline from June 30 to Nov. 30 for the Senate Resolution 6 Commission’s study on issues facing our first responder community.
Secondly, the committee passed House Bill 760
would designate Sept. 27 of each year as First Responders Day in Pennsylvania.
As both measures received unanimous support in committee, they will now face a vote in the House.
To view footage of the House Veterans’ Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee’s meeting, click here
Representative Stephen E. Barrar
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Media Contact: Alison Evans