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The Bucks County Association of Township Officials Will Study What Works & What Does Not Work to Encourage Emergency Services Volunteerism

The Bucks County Association of Township Officials Will Study What Works & What Does Not Work to Encourage Emergency Services Volunteerism | Newtown News of Interest |

The Bucks County Association of Township Officials is organizing a database of available and proposed resources to push emergency services volunteerism in the county.


Volunteerism rates for fire departments especially show an “alarming” downward trend, and the association hopes the database will help bolster volunteer rates by educating municipalities and departments about past, present and possible future state programs and laws to help bolster volunteer numbers.


“Options are available to decision-makers to help encourage residents to volunteer for emergency services duty in our communities,” association President and Lower Southampton Supervisor Vice President Joe McFadden said in a letter to municipal managers and officials.


As examples of past and present laws, McFadden in his letter cited Act 172 of 2016, a municipal tax-credit program for emergency volunteers (read “Some Bucks Towns Opt for Volunteer Stipends”), and Senate Resolution 60 of 2004, which established a legislative commission for laws to provide direct and indirect volunteer assistance.


“The problem is, how do you get your arms around it all to decide what is the best option for your township or department,” McFadden added.


McFadden also referred to a current senate resolution, SR-6, introduced by state Sen. Randy Vulakovich, R-38, Allegheny County. Also known as the SR-60 Reboot, the bill is a follow-up study to the 2004 resolution.


The database is not ready yet, but the project did take its first steps with the association’s Municipal Cooperative Survey, an initial information-gathering effort to shape the next steps of the overall project.


The association’s goal is to develop not only a list of volunteer retention programs, but also collect information on how those programs did or did not work.


Only elected officials and certain township staff are asked to participate in the survey.

johnmacknewtown's insight:

Consider these sobering facts (abstracted from a PSATS OpEd):


  • Volunteers at fire companies across Pennsylvania have dropped from 300,000 strong in the 1960s and ’70s to below 50,000 today.
  • At least 75 percent of fire companies are struggling with manpower at a time when the state’s population is aging. The average age of a firefighter is 50-something, and people are busier today than they were decades ago.
  • Communities would have to raise taxes almost $10 billion a year to switch to a paid model for fire service, according to the office of the state fire commissioner. Who can afford that kind of property tax increase in their community?
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