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State Firemen Testify at House GOP Policy Committee Hearing

Firemen’s Association of the State of Pennsylvania (FASP), along with the Pennsylvania Fire and Emergency Services Institute (PFESI), provided testimony before the House Republican Policy CommitteeNORTH HUNTINGDON, Pa. – ERG was pleased to help the state House Republican Policy Committee at a hearing to address issues facing the state’s volunteer firefighters and emergency responders. ERG Partners represents the Firemen’s Association of the State of Pennsylvania (FASP), which, along with the Pennsylvania Fire and Emergency Services Institute (PFESI), provided the committee with a 30,000 foot view of challenges plaguing the fire and emergency services community. The organizations also offered possible legislative solutions.

Representing the two statewide volunteer fire organizations, Mike Whitzel and Don Konkle briefed the committee on policy-related goals of Pennsylvania’s volunteer fire and first responders. Mr. Whitzel is Chief of the Franklintown and Community Fire Company of York. He is also a member of the FASP’s Legislative Committee, and PFESI board member. Mr. Konkle serves as the executive director of PFESI.

ERG, which has led several legislative battles on behalf of the state’s volunteer firemen in the current legislative session, worked with Whitzel and Konkle and with House GOP Policy Chair David Reed (R, Indiana) to ensure that praise was given for legislative accomplishments, while explaining that much work is yet to be done. At the hearing, with testimony written by ERG Partner Tracy Wingenroth, FASP and PFESI made the following recommendations:

  • Enactment of legislation to modify the training delivery system and make it free for all Pennsylvania firefighters;
  • Mandate that all new members of volunteer fire departments undergo a comprehensive background check;
  • Adjust lending limits and repayment terms for the Volunteer Loan Assistance Program (VLAP);
  • Implementation of a carbon monoxide alarm standard, especially in apartment buildings or multifamily dwellings;
  • Modify the VFRA rules to permit expanded spending for recruitment and retention initiatives, pension/length of service plans and permissible benefits spending plans;
  • Provide local tax credits (e.g. Municipal Emergency Services Tax or earned income tax to be waived for volunteer fire/ems personnel);
  • Allow education tuition credits (up to 6 per year) at any state university or community college for volunteer fire/ems personnel;
  • Authorize local business tax credits for allowing employees to leave for fire/ems calls; and,
  • Permit volunteer fire/EMS personnel to “buy in” to state health care programs at their local level, similar to an employee or their family member.

To watch the hearing, or read full testimony, visit the House GOP Policy Committee website at:


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