ABBOTTSTOWN – As part of efforts to address staffing issues in the volunteer fire service and to spur the next generation of firefighters, Rep. Torren Ecker (R-Adams/Cumberland) introduced House Bill 1522
to modernize requirements for junior firefighters.
House Bill 1522 would remove a requirement that junior firefighters take Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) training on how to battle wildfires. This current requirement is superfluous in today’s fire services and is a barrier to enter for many perspective junior firefighters.
“As a former junior firefighter, I know the important roles these young men and women play in our volunteer fire services. They are the future of our fire departments,” Ecker said. “This bill would help attract junior firefighters to serve at a time when volunteer levels have sharply dropped.”
The number of volunteer firefighters in the Commonwealth has shrunk from about 300,000 in the 1980s to about 38,000.
Under Ecker’s bill, junior firefighters would still have to complete training with the state Fire Commissioner and would still be subject to all the other current requirements. Even if the wildfire training requirement is removed, any volunteer fire company would still be able to require the DCNR training if it is determined to be relevant for that area.
“The wildfire training isn’t pertinent to all areas of the state, particularly urban and suburban areas,” Ecker said. “This bill gives departments the freedom to require training that fits their communities’ needs.”
Representative Torren Ecker
193rd Legislative District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Media Contact: Greg Gross