Tax credits, a rewards program and free state or community college were some incentives considered recently to attract more volunteer firefighters and EMS workers, writes Josh Popichak for sauconsource.com.
Finding volunteer firefighters and EMS workers was the topic of a hearing called by State Sen. Tim Kearney (D-26) and the Pennsylvania State Senate Democratic Policy Committee.
The number of volunteer firefighters in Pennsylvania has dropped from 300,000 in the 1970s to 38,000 in 2018. The state’s population has risen from 11.8 million in 1970 to 12.8 million as of 2018, testified Pennsylvania State Fire Commissioner Bruce Trego.
More than 90 percent of Pennsylvania’s 2,462 fire companies are volunteer.
Pending legislation would expand local government authority to offer tax credits to local fire and EMS personnel.
Regionalizing services has also been discussed.
Among those testifying was Danielle Koerner, Community Outreach Coordinator, Delaware County Department of Emergency Services.
“I am grateful that stakeholders from across the state are coming together to discuss what we need to do as a legislature to make sure emergency services like EMS and firefighting are able to adequately serve their communities into the future,” State Sen. Kearney said.
Read more about the future of volunteer fire companies here.