Frye looks to boost firefighter ranks

first_imgIndianapolis, In. — In recent years, there has been a shortage of firefighters in the state. According to the National Fire Protection Agency, the number of volunteer firefighters has fallen by 12 percent nationally over the last three decades.  To reverse this trend, I proposed legislation to focus on recruiting and retaining qualified firefighters in Indiana.Across the state, departments are struggling to fill their rosters with high-performing firefighters that can meet the physical and mental demands of the job. Some fire departments, especially those located in our state’s border counties, are currently drawing from small applicant pools due to restrictions that only allow them to hire firefighters from their county or neighboring counties.I authored a bill to lift this restriction and allow fire departments to hire any capable firefighters who reside within a 50-mile radius of the city, town or township their department serves. This would allow fire departments that border other states to recruit across state lines.  Our goal is to help departments better serve Hoosier communities, and protect current firefighters from working excessive overtime hours, which can take a toll on themselves and their families.Hoosier fire departments and communities rely a great deal on volunteer firefighters to reinforce their ranks and provide additional support and protection when on a dangerous call. In an effort to bolster low volunteer numbers, I authored another bill that would establish the Ivy Tech Public Safety Scholarship. This scholarship would provide tuition for public safety officers wanting to gain an associate degree or certificate program offered at Ivy Tech Community College. The scholarship would be fully funded by Ivy Tech and cover up to two years of tuition.For the first two years of the program, the scholarship would only be available to active volunteer firefighters. After July 2021, the program would open up to all emergency responders such as full-time firefighters, police officers, paramedics and EMTs. With this scholarship, active public safety officers could continue their education and obtain valuable skillsets like information technology support, medical assisting and business administration.As a former firefighter, I understand the motivation and qualifications needed to succeed in this career. These pieces of legislation would give both volunteer and full-time fire departments the tools to attract prospective recruits and retain current ones. If you have any questions or input on issues being debate at the Statehouse, contact me at 317-234-9450 or [email protected]last_img read more