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Challenges

Training

One of the most frequent issues voiced by volunteer firefighters is the cost and the time commitment
required to attend classroom training. Further, the number of hours of training has also been cited as a
primary impediment to individuals looking to join the fire service. The associated costs to train a fire-fighter are born by Fireman’s Relief Associations, the local fire department or the firefighter personally.

  • Average Cost of Training (2005): >$100
  • Present Day Cost per Student: $2,500
  • Number of Hours Required: 140 Hours

Retention

The number of women and men that comprise the volunteer fire service has declined dramatically
over the last 50 years. One of the chief reasons for the precipitous drop is the amount of time needed
to continuously raise money to provide for essen-tial services and equipment.

  • Decline in the VFD Ranks: 83%
  • Profit on Typical Fundraiser: $1.50
  • Average Cost of New Fire Truck: $900,000
  • VFD’s Annually Save PA: $8 Billion

Solutions

Senate Resolution 6 - Fire & Emergency Service Study and Legislative Package

The Chairmen of the Senate and House Veteran’s Affairs and Emergency Pre-paredness Committee advanced an initiative last year to “reboot” previous efforts (through Senate Resolution 60 - 2003) to continue to address the challenges of the fire and emergency services. Through the imput of various stakeholders, a con-current resolution (SR 6) was drafted and a package of initaitives was identifed as priorities for the 2016-2017 legislative session.

  • Online Training
  • Full-Time Equivalency - Community College Training Funding
  • Use of Fire Relief Funding (Co-sponsor memo, Rep. Farry)
  • College Loan Forgiveness for First Responders (SB 72)
  • Fire Company Billing (HB 183)
  • Volunteer Loan Assistance Program (VLAP)
  • Employer Tax Credits for Firefighters (Co-sponsor memo, Rep. Knowles)
  • Fire Relief Fund Administration (Co-sponsor memo, Rep. Farry)
  • Review of Statewide Insurance Fund
  • School District/Community College Partnerships
  • CPA’s and Fire Companies (HB 430)
  • PTSD Training

Potential Funding Source

Both volunteer firefighter relief associations (VFRA’s) and paid firefighters re-ceive money from a 2% tax on homeowner insurance policies issued by out-of-state insurance providers. By increasing the percentage by 0.5%, an additional $17 million could be realized, and if increased by 1% the total would be $34 million. The average homeowner insurance policy is $660, which would increase by $3.30 and $6.60 respectively on an annual basis if the increase were enacted.

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