Across the state, local fire companies are struggling. Volunteers are dwindling and costs are soaring. Training requirements have intensified. With donations and volunteers harder to come by, the future of the local fire company looks grim. Without real, viable solutions to address this volunteer shortage, many local stations may be forced to close.
That means one thing: Pennsylvania is on the verge of a public safety crisis.
Local lawmakers are imploring the legislature to act now and give this crisis the attention it deserves but we need your help. Consider these sobering facts:
- Volunteers at fire companies across Pennsylvania have dropped from 300,000 strong in the 1960s and ’70s to below 50,000 today.
- At least 75% of fire companies are struggling with manpower at a time when the state’s population is aging. The average age of a firefighter is 50-something.
- Communities would have to raise taxes almost $10 billion a year to switch to a paid model for fire service.
Whether it’s helping at the scene of an overdose or putting out a house fire, volunteer fire and EMS responders keep the commonwealth’s communities safe. PSATS (Pennsylvania State Association of Township Supervisors) and its members are urging the state legislature to immediately enact real and feasible solutions, such as allowing variable training standards for rural, suburban, and urban areas; granting a tax incentive for employers who permit employees to respond to calls while at work; and providing a fix for out-of-control insurance rates at the State Workers Insurance Fund (SWIF).
If Pennsylvania doesn’t find real remedies soon, the day is not far away when someone calls 911 for help, and no fire company responds.
We must make sure that never happens. Our volunteer fire companies are simply too important to lose.”
Support your local fire and EMS departments by volunteering, giving financially or by sending them a word of encouragement.
Credits: PSATS Township Today Quarterly Newsletter. For more information visit: www.psats.org.