House and Senate Committees to Consider Farry Bills to Assist PA’s First Responders
HARRISBURG – Rep. Frank Farry (R-Bucks) today joined leaders of the House and Senate Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness committees to unveil a new package of bills to assist fire departments and EMS organizations, which includes three Farry initiatives.
During the event, lawmakers were joined by first responders from across the state to announce a commission to study fire and EMS issues and unveil a 16-issue package of legislation to complement and build on previous efforts to help Pennsylvania’s first responders address key issues such as recruitment and retention.
“The General Assembly is aware of the current strains on fire and EMS companies and will be actively working on legislative remedies to assist public safety organizations in preserving services, keeping costs down and increasing volunteerism this session,” Farry said. “I look forward to contributing to this discussion and serving on the commission dedicated to preserving the important role these organizations play in our communities.”
Three of the items included in the package will be introduced by Farry, including one to help curb the growing problem of suicide and mental health within the first responder community.
“Just like our veterans, first responders are at risk for developing a variety of mental health conditions,” Farry said. “These men and women are often on the front lines of tragedy and we need to ensure Pennsylvania has the proper mental health programs in place to help first responders.”
Additionally, Farry will be introducing legislation to review the Statewide Insurance Fund, which will lead to an in-depth examination of insurance issues surrounding the volunteer firefighter workers compensation.
He is also reintroducing legislation to expand the allowable uses of relief money for mini-retirement programs, known as Length of Service Award Programs (LOSAP).
“The program could be used as a tool to ensure retention of existing volunteer members and provide incentives for recruiting new volunteer firefighters, which our companies so desperately need,” Farry said.
Other fire and EMS support measures unveiled include bills to promote recruitment and retention, such as offering online training to make the process more convenient, providing loan forgiveness to attract volunteers, and developing a pilot program to offer firefighter training in secondary schools, as well as legislation to provide tax credits to businesses that excuse their employees when they need to respond to emergencies or undergo training and to provide new billing options for fire departments and EMS organizations.
Representative Frank Farry
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Media Contact: Abbey Haslam