Lawmaker wants Pa. inmates trained as volunteer firefighters

The number of firefighters in Pennsylvania is declining

Firefighters Inmates in Pennsylvania
Credit: WHTM

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — The number of firefighters in Pennsylvania is declining. One lawmaker is looking to fill that void with ex-convicts.

“We’re not suggesting, even for a little bit, that we would have child molesters going into your home. That was never the intention,” state Sen. Dan. Laughlin (R-Erie) said.

Laughlin’s proposal would train non-violent criminals to become volunteer firefighters after they’re released from prison, something California is already doing.

“They did their time and this could be a good stepping stone to being a good member of the community,” Laughlin said.

The senator wants inmates trained in prison so they’re ready to work once they’re released. He says his plan would help lower the recidivism rate and also help fill the need for firefighters.

The number of volunteer firefighters in Pennsylvania has dropped dramatically, from 300,000 in the 1970s to 50,000 today.

Laughlin says his plan is in the very early stages. He hopes to iron out more details, like cost and regulations, with the Department of Corrections in the coming weeks.

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