Harrisburg – November 28, 2018 – Senate Democratic Leader Jay Costa, Jr. (D-Allegheny) released the following statement regarding the adoption of the report from a select commission that examined issues impacting fire and emergency services.
Costa served as a member of the SR 6 Commission and is Democratic chair of the Senate Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee.
At a Nov. 28 meeting in Harrisburg, the Senate Resolution 6 Commission adopted its final report. The report included 27 recommendations aimed at providing additional support to our volunteer fire and emergency medical services throughout Pennsylvania.
Costa’s comments follow:
“I would like to personally thank all the members of the commission for their contributions and dedication. Their hard work, combined with a determination to examine options and explore solutions, enabled this comprehensive report to be completed. Senator (Randy) Vulakovich and his staff worked tirelessly and managed issues well for the last two years.
“I look forward to seeing all of the recommendations introduced in the upcoming legislative session and will work for their consideration and passage.”
The commission was comprised of a variety of individuals representing volunteer fire services, professional fire services, volunteer and professional emergency medical services, local government and state officials.
The central focus of the commission’s work was to address problems of recruiting and retaining volunteer emergency services personnel by providing an assortment of tools and innovations. The commission also included several recommendations aimed at assisting career, professional fire and EMS departments.
Several of the recommendations:
- Improve coordination of efforts between local governments and volunteer firefighting and emergency medical services regarding standards for cover and possible regionalization of efforts;
- Utilize financial and non-financial incentives to recruit and retain first responders including Length of Service Award Payments (LOSAP) and other benefit programs;
- Pursue ideas to improve volunteer fire fighter recruitment and retention by clarifying training requirements;
- Enhance state support of municipal and volunteer firefighting and emergency medical services;
- Ensure minimum fire and emergency services coverage through government partnerships;
- Open eligibility for Volunteer Loan Assistance Program to all fire service providers including those departments in cities;
- Correct emergency services reimbursement rates to allow for competitive compensation;
- Create state fire commission and expand the office of state fire commissioner;
- Designate regional technical advisors to support community risk reduction efforts;
- Provide incentives to permit trainees to attend fire and emergency services training.