Davis bill designed to benefit fire, EMS amended into bill that will overhaul Office of the State Fire Commissioner

HARRISBURG, Oct. 21 – State Rep. Austin’s Davis’ H.B. 1819, which would strengthen fire and EMS services through the creation of a state fire commission, was rolled into another House bill that passed the state House Wednesday.

The amended bill that passed the House, H.B.1673, would overhaul various elements of law governing fire and emergency medical services in the commonwealth. Crucial elements of Davis’ H.B. 1819 were included in the final version of H.B. 1673.

“Reforming the Office of the State Fire Commissioner is important on so many levels, most notably so that we can ensure our volunteer fire and EMS agencies are receiving the proper administrative support they want and need,” Davis said. “This was a bill of great importance to me, and I’m grateful portions of my legislation were integrated into the finalized version of House Bill 1673, which will benefit our fire and EMS services immensely.”

The portion of H.B. 1673 that addresses the OSFC, and relates closely to Davis’ bill, expands the duty of this office in many ways. The bill would convert the Fire Safety Advisory Committee into the State Fire Advisory Board, changing its composition and duties, and consequently disbanding the existing committee. The board would be composed of 14 voting members, the majority and minority chairs of House and Senate Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness committees as non-voting members, and additional designated non-voting members appointed by the governor.

This bill also would require the commissioner to report directly to the governor rather than through the lieutenant governor on all matters concerning fire services. The commissioner’s powers and duties would be reassigned to require the development of a curriculum and provide and assist in the coordination of fire, rescue, and emergency services training, including administering the State Fire Academy.

The bill now heads to the governor’s desk, and Davis said he anticipates the governor will sign it.