Barrar’s Committee Holds Hearing on Possible Expansion of Benefits for Emergency Responders
HARRISBURG – Rep. Steve Barrar (R-Chester/Delaware), majority chairman of the House Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee, this week hosted a public hearing on legislation that would ensure all appropriate fire service personnel are covered under the Heart and Lung Act, which provides compensation and medical care for first responders.

“Caring for the men and women who work to keep the rest of us safe and deliver emergency care is a top priority, and the committee members and I look forward to providing adequate benefits that attract and retain Pennsylvania residents—especially since less people are entering such vital fields,” Barrar said.

During the hearing, Barrar and committee members heard testimony from Andrew Thomas, president of the Local 22 Firefighters and Paramedics Union. He advocated for the need to support emergency responders by offering necessary care.

“Not only do the fire service paramedics monitor the health of firefighters, they assist in the removal of individuals from an incident scene and render emergency medical treatment to the victims of an emergency incident,” Thomas explained. “Paramedics are now required to enter buildings with the police in the event of a mass casualty, active shooter incident. Paramedics and emergency medical technicians (EMTs) respond to shootings, stabbings, assaults, motor vehicle accidents and many other traumatic and medical emergencies. Paramedical and EMTs are an integral part of any firefighting operation.”

The Heart and Lung Act was created to provide important protections for police and paid firefighters in the Commonwealth to keep them financially whole following an on-the-job injury. It requires the public employer to compensate for the difference between workers’ compensation and their salary.

While testifiers were supportive of expanding the bill’s coverage, some voiced the opinion that the benefit could be costly and, therefore, should only be expanded after due consideration.

“This is a very valuable benefit appropriately provided to those who serve their community in critical public safety professions. It is also a very expensive benefit, and any expansion must carefully balance appropriate benefits for full-time public safety employees with the costs to the public employer and the community,” Elam Herr, assistant executive director of the Pennsylvania State Association of Township Supervisors, said.

“The hearing provided valuable information and perspectives of the Commonwealth citizens who testified,” Barrar said. “I thank everyone for the information that will be helpful as we consider the implications and possible consequences of the bills.”

To view footage of the House Veterans’ Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee’s public hearing, click here.

Representative Stephen E. Barrar
160th District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives

Media Contact: Alison Evans
717.260.6206 /
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