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Bill would offer scholarships to First Responders

HARRISBURG, PA – To address the recruitment and retention issues associated with volunteer first responders, Rep. James R. Santora (R-Delaware) introduced legislation that would offer scholarships in exchange for first responders volunteering their time in the Commonwealth.

 “We face the possibility of more limited services, such as an ambulance taking five times as long to arrive during emergencies, or much higher costs that would inevitably come with all first responders being paid if we can’t work to fix this growing problem,” Santora said. “Clearly, this issue needs our attention.”

House Bill 2110 would establish a Volunteer First Responder Education Tax Credit Program to help Pennsylvania with the recruitment and retention of volunteer first responders, which is a tremendous challenge that departments all across the Commonwealth are facing. The ranks of volunteer firefighters in Pennsylvania have dwindled from about 300,000 in the 1970s to around 50,000 today.

The program would provide a scholarship of up to $5,000 per active volunteer first responder to attend a Pennsylvania institution of higher learning.

“Attracting and keeping people who are willing to give their time to help others – especially with the many demands placed on our time from families, jobs and hobbies – has become a real challenge. It’s time to offer a real benefit for volunteering,” Santora added.