Barrar and Committees Discuss Options for Emergency Responder Communications System
HARRISBURG – Rep. Steve Barrar (R-Chester/Delaware) and other members of the House Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee heard from testifiers regarding the Commonwealth’s future participation in the federally authorized FirstNet communications system.

FirstNet was established by Congress in 2012 with the mission of ensuring the building, deployment and operation of a nationwide, broadband network to equip the public safety community with tools to help save lives and protect communities all across the United States.

The system would give priority to first responders during emergencies such as the hurricanes and forest fires that our nation has been experiencing lately. By limiting the system’s to public safety, first responders would have priority access during emergency communications.

“The most important task of government is protecting the health and safety of its citizens, and that requires an efficient first responder community. Considering options for the communications system that will help them best serve all Pennsylvanians cannot be taken lightly,” Barrar said.

Regardless of their perspective about how best to achieve interoperability, testifiers noted its importance. There were differing views about whether the state should own the system or elect to have a contract with a company that would be responsible for the build out of the system. As well as its maintenance and associated costs.

Gov. Tom Wolf is responsible for choosing whether the Commonwealth will opt in or out of the national system by Dec. 31. If Pennsylvania does not participate in the federal system, it would be responsible to negotiate its own agreement with a private company.

The hearing was held jointly with the Senate Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness and Communications and Technology committees.

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

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

Media Contact: Alison Evans
717.260.6206 /

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