WEST CHESTER (April 19) – State Senator Andy Dinniman of Chester County has been named to the Senate Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee.

Dinniman has a long record of support for veterans and emergency first responders and requested the committee appointment to be in a position to further act on his support.

“Supporting our veterans and ensuring that our communities are safe are not Democrat or Republican issues. They are Pennsylvania issues,” he said. “I look forward to working in the spirit of bipartisanship to help ensure that our veterans have access to strong support services and all our residents have access to strong emergency response services.”

Dinniman said the foremost issue facing fire, ambulance and emergency services today is the struggle to recruit and retain volunteers. Over the past forty years, the number of volunteer firefighters statewide has plummeted from an estimated 300,000 to about 50,000, according to the Office of the Pennsylvania Fire Commissioner.

Senator Dinniman speaks about the importance of public safety a recent rally with state and local police officials in Harrisburg.

Senator Dinniman speaks about the importance of public safety at a recent rally with state and local police officials in Harrisburg.

Dinniman has introduced several pieces of legislation designed to boost the recruitment and retention of volunteer firefighters. Senate Bill 1097 calls for establishing a Volunteer Firefighters Length of Service Award Program (LOSAP), as is used in other states, to provide incentives for recruiting and retaining volunteer firefighters. In addition, he is reintroducing the Student Volunteer Firefighter Housing Grant Act, which would allow fire companies to provide housing for college students in their stations in exchange for the students’ volunteer service. Dinniman said the bill aims to both attract new young people to the volunteer fire service while retaining current or previously trained members who may go to college away from their home stations.

“The vast majority of our fire companies are primarly staffed by volunteers, and we are losing them at an alarming rate,” Dinniman said. “This is not just a tradition. It’s an economic necessity. We need to find new and innovative ways to incentivize and grow our volunteer force.”

Dinniman has also introduced Senate Bill 1096, legislation to expand the Premise Alert System statewide to allow anyone with a special need, complex medical diagnosis or disability to share pertinent information with local law enforcement and the 911 system.

Last year, Dinniman was honored by Good Fellowship Ambulance and EMS Training Institute for his work in passing legislation and updating state regulations to give police and emergency first responders access to the life-saving, anti-opioid drug Naloxone (Narcan). Dinniman said that he continues to work on effective ways to address the crisis of addiction. His office maintains a close working relationship with Good Fellowship, as well as the law enforcement and fire service community on state issues, legislation, and regulations impacting emergency first responders.

Dinniman also remains committed to working to ensure that the service and sacrifice of all our veterans are remembered and honored and that service men and women receive all the support, benefits, and resources they are entitled to upon returning home.

Dinniman was the driving force in restoring the Medal of Honor Grove in Schuylkill Township, the nation’s oldest memorial site dedicated to Medal of Honor recipients, and establishing a non-profit organization to ensure that it is preserved in perpetuity. In addition, he has supported efforts to maintain several other veterans memorial sites.

Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness will be Dinniman’s sixth committee assignment in the Pennsylvania Senate this session. He currently sits on the Agriculture and Rural Affairs, Environmental Resources and Energy, Public Health and Welfare, and State Government committees, in addition to serving as Minority Chair of the Education Committee.