Hi, I’m Joe Gerdes and this is Coffee and the Capitol We’re here in the office of state senator Mike Regan, Chair of the Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee Vice-chair of the Local Government Committee and a former US Marshal. Thank you Senator for hosting us. Pleasure to be with you. Senator let’s get right at it talk about the ongoing volunteer firefighter and EMS shortage. You spent more than two decades and in law enforcement and public safety so I know this topic is near and dear to your heart. What troubles you most about this crisis? Well, we’re losing our volunteers. I mean, I think that’s a that’s a huge problem. We are you know, I think in the seventies we’re at about a three hundred thousand volunteer firefighters now, we’re down to about 30,000 which is a Huge alarming decrease so I think you know as the legislators if it’s coming upon us to introduce legislation Which will spur our volunteerism, you know something that’s such a huge part of our country. Changing times I guess, you know things people have different priorities now, but You know, I think part of it is everyone’s so busy So I think we’re just trying to make it more convenient You know introduce certain bills that will probably do that. Sure and your committee The Veterans Affairs Emergency Preparedness Committee is at the forefront of coming up with solutions to these these types of problems and other public safety problems but problems as well many were highlighted in the SR6 Report. Tell us about the legislation you’ve seen and kind of been working on. I know there’s been a lot coming your way from the house. I know you’ve got a lot in committee. Just in general how you know some of your thoughts on how we attack the attack some of these issues? I think one of the things that was crucial is we’re going to pass a bill which allows online training. Sure. So, you know, if you’re a firefighter you don’t have to report to a training site you can do the training long line at home. And that’s a big deal especially for a lot of our younger you know would be volunteers to be able to do that at home. And we’ve allocated $250,000 to state fire commissioner so we can go after retain and retention. Sure Of firefighters I think that’s a huge thing. We’re just you know again, we’re just trying to create an environment where It’s more appealing to people I’ll say another thing what we’re looking at is and we passed a bill through the Senate as You know kids coming up through high school who want to be firefighters You know in the past they weren’t able to participate in fire a certain level of fire trained with parental permission they can take part in more the intricate or maybe volatile things of fire path. Not sure it’s a fireplace so they can You know when they turn 18 and they’re ready to go they can go right into being a fireman. Right. Which is gonna be a big thing. Right We see a lot of we see a lot of volunteer companies around here offering you know packages for student housing or whatever to stay in the firehouse or something these the younger younger volunteers are really what we you know, we really need to look to get back into the into the fire service. Look you need to in order to fix this problem We need to really open up our minds and be willing to him to you know experiment. Sure the worst thing that can happen is we make the 9-1-1 call and no one comes so I know that’s that’s top on your list. We need to look for alternatives I think the alternatives are there. I don’t know if we’re every to get back to where we were three hundred thousand volunteers Rightly hope so. But again, we can serve and chip away hope we can. Certainly senator you also serve as Vice Chair of the Local Government Committee What are the local some of the local issues you’d like to see the General Assembly tackle this this remaining session here. Well, you know one of the things we’re just learning about now it’s very complex kind of a convoluted topic of MS4. True. You know, our many municipalities are adopting these MS4 regulations that are coming down from the federal government. Right. And there are hosting fees upon not only residents of the municipalities but also businesses also nonprofits and we’re seeing you know, where big companies are being taxed a lot. We talk about the millions of dollars, but then you see the churches the local churches that are barely surviving or having used the collections from their collection plates to pay their MS4 fee or tax. And I really think that the money that’s being collected it’s just not legitimate We are working with some scientists right now to explain to us exactly how this is being done. Before you know our residents and you know the people who live in our musicality are getting built out of a lot of money on that Well it’s a huge issue for us as well and not only from our MS4 communities because we like to say or you know we’ll ask are you an MS for community? If you’re not you’re going to be at some point we believe so it’s very important looking down the road.This is a very expensive proposition. We all want clean water but how we do and how we measure it’s really important to Make sure we’re doing it right. We feel that way it’s done now the way it’s being put together now is not really having much impact on the cleanliness of the bay. There’s other ways we can do it which will not cost nearly as much money to clean up the bay so I think we’re this is still in the learning process, you know. Right. Is a very detailed issue Right, but I feel confident that it’s some point in time we can come up with something we could present which We certainly look forward to working with you on that. Senator you’re a fiscal conservative too- as many of our township officials are what lessons could Harrisburg learn from Pennsylvania’s local government leaders I mean, we don’t get to overspend we have to make sure that we keep everything within budget and in check. Yeah, we’re in a position coming up now. We’re in little budget sees right then I’d be going to all these things again proposals for different taxes at the right which we have to we have to hold, you know, hold strong I mean we have to get along we have to make sure we’re governing in a kind of bipartisan way but look we need to be like municipalities have to they’re held on task Right. We need to be held to task as well. Right? Well, that’s all the time we have today I want to thank Senator Mike Regan for having us again here in his office. And remember if you like what you’re seeing subscribe to PSATS Youtube channel and follow our social media pages for more Township Video News content. Next Tuesday look for DaveTalk and as always, thank you for watching.