HARRISBURG – On Tuesday, Rep. Steve Barrar (R-Chester/Delaware), chairman of the House Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee, held a voting meeting to advance the second batch of bills in two weeks stemming from recommendations of the Senate Resolution 6 Commission (SR6).
The SR6 Commission produced a report late last year containing 27 recommendations to the General Assembly on how to help avert a crisis in the delivery of volunteer fire and emergency medical services (EMS) in the Commonwealth. Specifically, the report seeks to address sharply declining numbers of volunteer firefighters and EMS providers.
Many of the recommendations seek to provide incentives for volunteer firefighters and EMS personnel and make it easier for these volunteer companies to maintain or replace their facilities and equipment.
“House Bill 432
, which I am sponsoring, defines Post-Traumatic Stress Injury (PTSI) and enables first responders who are suffering from a traumatic event resulting in post-traumatic stress to receive the mental health benefits necessary,” said Barrar.
Barrar’s legislation and the following bills have been voted out of committee and are on their way to the full House for consideration:
House Bill 1448
- would establish a voter referendum on whether to permit municipal/career fire companies to access the Pennsylvania 2% Volunteer Loan and Assistance Program (VLAP) to help purchase and maintain their facilities and equipment.
House Bill 1459
- creates a mental wellness and stress management program for first responders.
House Bill 1838
- would increase surcharges on certain violations to enhance EMS Operating Fund.
House Bill 1839
- would enable counties to offer a tax credit against the property tax liability of active volunteers of a fire or EMS company.
House Bill 1834
– would extend the Pennsylvania Fire Company and EMS Grant program for another four years and would permit companies to save grant money for up to five years to cover a large project.
House Bill 1816
- would increase loan limits for volunteer fire and EMS services through the Volunteer Loan Assistance Program (VLAP).
House Bill 1869
- would authorize Department of Health to offer a staffing waiver to EMS services.
House Bill 759
– would authorize volunteer fire departments to bill for real and reasonable costs.
House Bill 1347
– would require insurance carriers to directly reimburse ambulance companies not in the insurance carrier’s network.
House Bill 1673
– would authorize volunteer fire departments to use Volunteer Fire Relief Funds for Length of Service Award Programs, which are mini-retirement programs for volunteer firefighters.
House Bill 1705
– would authorize school districts to provide a property tax credit of up to 100% for volunteer emergency responders.
House Bill 1780
– would exempt volunteer fire/EMS companies from the Right-to-Know Law
House Bill 1773
– would establish the First Responder Tuition Assistance Program.
House Bill 1786
- would establish First Responder College Loan Forgiveness Program.
Senate Bill 146
– would establish online training for firefighters.
The House is expected to take up this legislation in October.
Representative Stephen E. Barrar
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Media Contact: Donna Pinkham