House efforts would exempt volunteer emergency responders from fees

Measure sets table for expanding waivers to all volunteers

PITTSBURGH, May 29 – State Rep. Dom Costa, D-Allegheny, today discussed legislation that would exempt volunteer emergency responders from paying fees that total more than $47 for state and federal background clearances.

Costa was joined by fellow Allegheny Democratic Reps. Dan Deasy, Bill Kortz, Harry Readshaw, and Paul Costa, as well as volunteer firefighters and emergency responders at Evergreen Volunteer Fire Department. Costa said that the financial burden on volunteers was an unintended consequence of changes to the state’s child abuse laws and that at least one bill in the House of Representatives, H.B. 1081, would begin to right that wrong.

To view a photo gallery from the event, click here.

He said that the bill would spare paid and volunteer firefighters and emergency medical service responders from the $10 clearances from the state police and state Department of Human Services.

“I know that many, if not all of the volunteer firefighters and EMS personnel, are prepared to do their due diligence, but let’s remember that these are the same firefighters and first responders who save the commonwealth millions of dollars, protect our communities, and most significantly, save lives – all while placing their own lives at risk,” Costa said.

“We owe them a huge debt of gratitude and more, and at the very least the state should recognize their sacrifice and contributions by doing these background and clearance checks at no charge to them.”

House Bill 1081 has garnered significant bipartisan support and has been sent to the House Judiciary Committee, on which Costa serves, for consideration.

Costa was joined by House Democrats from the Allegheny Delegation who called for efforts to see that all volunteers across the commonwealth also have the fees waived.

“We must recognize that we owe these men and women a great debt, and then we need to find ways through continued legislative efforts to help other volunteers who are critical to the commonwealth,” Costa said.