The Senate today unanimously approved Senate Bill 955, legislation sponsored by Senators Randy Vulakovich (R-38) and Jay Costa (D-43) that creates an incentive for community colleges to establish fire fighter training programs within secondary schools.
SB 955 would establish a three-year pilot program – providing $150,000 per year to three community colleges – one each in the eastern, central, and western parts of the state. Those colleges would be charged with establishing partnerships with secondary schools to provide fire fighter training classes for high school students.
“Many fire companies are facing severe shortages of volunteers,” said Senator Vulakovich, Chairman of the Senate Veterans Affairs & Emergency Preparedness Committee. “We have found that if students do not join a volunteer fire company by the time they graduate from high school, it is unlikely that they will join the firefighting ranks. One way we can address this is to provide training to students while they are in high school. Community colleges have been at the forefront in training future firefighters. This legislation will help create new partnerships and ultimately help address our shortage of volunteer firefighters.”
“I support this bill and of all of the work that community colleges do, because I see the gaps that they are filling to prepare our young people for a wide variety of fields,” said Senator Costa, Democratic Chairman of the Senate Veterans Affairs & Emergency Preparedness Committee. “I sit on the board of the Community College of Allegheny County and I’m constantly inspired by the work that they’re doing getting students ready to attend a four-year college, or start a career. Community college is an affordable, accessible way for students to start tackling any number of skills; in fact, I started my own post-secondary education in community college. Maintaining a well-trained fire service is crucial for our safety across the state, and community colleges are a natural home for that training. While Senate Bill 955 only creates a pilot program for this training, I have no doubt that our community colleges will rise to the challenge and exceed expectations, as they always have.”
This legislation is part of the statewide Fire & EMS Study that was initiated as a result of legislation, Senate Resolution 6, which Senators Vulakovich and Costa introduced.
Senate Bill 955 now goes to the House of Representatives for consideration.
Nate Silcox (717) 787-6538 (Senator Vulakovich)
Brittany Crampsie (717) 787-7683 (Senator Costa)