Bill would offer college scholarships for Pa. responders

The program, which could address the shortage of volunteer firefighters and rescue personnel, would likely cost $2 million


The Tribune-Democrat

EAST TAYLOR TOWNSHIP, Pa. — Fire, ambulance and rescue personnel put the well-being of others before themselves. Now, a state legislator wants to help those who help others.

State Rep. Frank Burns, D-East Taylor Township, has introduced legislation to assist first responders with scholarships to Pennsylvania’s public colleges.

House Bill 48 would provide high school graduates who have served a minimum of six months and maintain active membership in a volunteer fire or rescue organization with grants in aid.

“We are all aware of the serious manpower shortages fac-ing the volunteer departments that have served our communities so well for so long,” Burns told emergency personnel who were training Sunday at the Cambria County Fire School in Patton.

“I believe that offering Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency scholarships to volunteers is one way to think outside the box to solve this problem.”

Burns said his program, which could address the shortage of volunteer firefighters and rescue personnel, would likely cost $2 million. State legislators would have to find the money for the plan in the 2017-18 budget.

But, Burns said, the benefits are incalculable.

“It’s easy to forget how much we’re saving on insurance rates because those volunteer departments are right down the road from our houses,” he noted.

“I see this proposal as a real win-win,” Burns said. “We’re promoting volunteerism, supporting the firefighters who protect us and we’re training our future workforce at the same time.”

We see merit and value in Burns’ plan. Now, we urge his colleagues to back him.

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McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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