U.S. Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick, a member of the Congressional Fire Services Caucus, along with state Reps. Frank Farry and Jennifer O’Mara, co-chairs of the Pennsylvania House Fire and Emergency Services Caucus, launched a task force to address the budgetary and manpower challenges faced by volunteer fire companies across the state. For decades, there has been a decline in volunteers across Pennsylvania. In the 1970s, there were about 300,000 volunteer firefighters across the state. Today, that number is less than 40,000.
“Volunteer fire departments are an incredibly important piece of our communities. This spirit of volunteerism was one that was passed down through generations and has unfortunately slowed in recent years,” Fitzpatrick said. “In a state where over 90% of fire departments are volunteer, these challenges must be addressed. We are beyond a crisis point. We must work together to support these volunteers and find resolutions to these problems. This is an imminent public safety issue.”
“As a 30-year volunteer firefighter and a member of the SR6 commission that studied fire and EMS issues in PA, I applaud this joint federal and state effort to assist our first responders,” Farry said. “It is the responsibility of all levels of government to ensure our first responders have the resources they need.”