Governor Shapiro visits Philly firefighters to talk his budget priorities
Shapiro was at Engine 1 & Ladder 5, where he highlighted his plans to create safer communities and invest in equipment, training, and staffing.
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Governor Josh Shapiro paid a visit to Engine 1 & Ladder 5 in South Philly on Thursday afternoon, April 6, where he shared his budget plans to create safer communities, including investments of $36 million for equipment, training, and staffing needs for firefighters and EMS providers as well as over $50 million in county 9-1-1 emergency communications systems.
"Every Pennsylvanian deserves to be safe and feel safe in their community, and creating safer communities across the Commonwealth starts by investing in the first responders and law enforcement personnel who always have our backs – which is a top priority for my Administration," said Shapiro.
In his visit, Shapiro met with the firefighters and entire team at the station. It is also the latest stop at a fire station in the last week for the governor, which saw him visit engines in Lancaster and Altoona to talk about the same budget plan.
During his visits in Lancaster and Altoon earlier this week, he met with members of the International Association of Firefighters and the Pennsylvania Professional Firefighters Association to hear about the support they need from the state. Shapiro also made sure to highlight the important investments from his first budget as governor.
"These are common sense solutions — and we must tackle these challenges together to deliver for our first responders," he said.
These solutions include a $36 million increase for EMS and fire services, including equipment, training, and salaries to support them and grow the department.
Over $50 million for 9-1-1 emergency communications systems will also be made that ties the funding to the cost of living so it keeps up with rising costs. There’s also a $1.5 million investment — a 266% increase — in the Municipal Assistance Program to support local governments and help counties share resources to implement emergency support services and lead community revitalization efforts.
Shapiro also proposed the creation of the Public Safety and Protection Fund, which will fund State Police to recruit and retain officers. His first budget also proposes a tax credit of up to $2,500 for new officers to help with recruitment.
"When Pennsylvanians are in need of help, we need to ensure help is on the way – and that is why investing in our emergency operations centers and personnel is a top priority for my Administration," said Shapiro.
When elected, he inherited a Pennsylvania facing a massive shortage of firefighters, first responders, and EMS providers, especially in smaller communities where they heavily rely on these important services.
In 2018, the Commonwealth had 22,000 fewer volunteer firefighters compared to the early 2000s, with roughly 6,000 fewer emergency medical technicians compared to 2012. Twenty percent of full-time 9-1-1 communications jobs are also currently unfilled across Pennsylvania.
Over the past week, the Governor has visited various fire stations around the state such as Altoona and Lancaster. When asked about the difference in challenges each station carried, he cited an unevenness in funding that he said his budget addresses.
“Every one of them has equipment needs, every one of them has personnel challenges. In a city like Philadelphia, I mentioned before, we're about 700 Firefighters short. That's an obvious problem. The fact that we don't have enough firefighters across the board impacts everyone,” he said.
With shortages across the board in different positions, when asked about if there is a particular timeline of how quick they are looking to fill these positions, he said that will be up to the captains at every individual station.
“Hopefully we get our budget passed in the next couple of months here. We're gonna do everything we can to create an environment where they have the dollars to do it. They got to get out there and do the recruiting and, and bring more people on board,” he said.