HARRISBURG – September 17, 2019 − State Senator Daylin Leach (D-Montgomery/Delaware) today introduced legislation to create a State Fire Commission and expand the Office of the State Fire Commissioner (OSFC).
“Pennsylvania’s fire and rescue services face a volunteer crises and it needs to be addressed immediately,” Leach said. “Pennsylvania has always been a leader in the United States for fire prevention. Our nation’s first volunteer fire service was created in the commonwealth, the state possesses the largest number of fire departments and it has the most career and paid personnel providing emergency services in the US.”
Leach circulated his proposal to his Senate colleagues in the form of a memo in February. Since then, five Senators have signed on as co-sponsors. Leach today introduced the policy’s language as Senate Bill 859. Leach’s new policy is based off the recommendations from the SR 6 Commission’s report on the issues impacting fire and emergency services in Pennsylvania. Pennsylvania had close to 300,000 volunteer firefighters in the 1970s. This report shows that number has dropped dramatically over the years and we now have about 38,000 volunteers.
Under Leach’s bill, OSFC would become a stand-alone office that reports directly to the governor. Pennsylvania House Democrats recently announced a companion bill.
“The SR 6 report gives us a blueprint for what we need to do to move forward,” Leach said. “It’s time the Pennsylvania legislature act to fix this problem.”
Leach’s legislation would designate OSFC as the lead agency for fire services in the Commonwealth. A new State Fire Commission would be created with the State Fire Chief serving as its chair. They would be tasked with setting minimum standards to be followed by all fire departments in the state, and they would be responsible for grant administration and the State Fire Academy.
Senator Daylin Leach represents the 17th Senatorial District, which includes parts of Montgomery County and Delaware County. For more information visit www.senatorleach.com/newsroom.