Burns: Town-hall style meeting with first responders a success

CRESSON, May 17 – Realizing the frustration of firefighters and emergency responders, Rep. Frank Burns brought state Fire Commissioner Bruce Trego to Cambria County for a town hall meeting Thursday night.

Dozens of volunteer fire and emergency services personnel attended the special meeting in Cresson to hear about proposed changes related to training and recruitment and to have their questions answered, said Burns, D-Cambria.

“Statistics show we’ve reached a crisis in Pennsylvania. In the 1970s, there were more than 300,000 volunteer firefighters but today we only have 38,000,” Burns said. “We rely on our volunteer first responders to be there in emergencies, but we need to ensure we’re doing all we can to provide them the support they need.”

Many in attendance raised concerns about access to training. Trego said anticipated revenue from new taxes on fireworks will provide funding to make online training more available to fire companies statewide.

“We have to do more to recruit volunteers at these departments,” Burns said. “That’s why I have proposed legislation that would provide scholarships to volunteer firefighters.”

Burns said a special bipartisan, bicameral commission was created in 2017 to address issues related to volunteer firefighter and emergency service personnel. The Senate Resolution 6 Commission created more than two dozen recommendations to revamping fire and EMS services in Pennsylvania, which were discussed at the meeting.

The commission’s final report can be found here: http://pfesi.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/11/REPORT-FINAL.pdf