ICYMI: Governor Shapiro Visits Altoona Fire Department to Discuss His Budget’s Investments in Fire, EMS, and 9-1-1 Services
April 04, 2023
Bipartisan officials praise Gov. Shapiro’s budget proposal to build safer communities
HARRISBURG, PA – Yesterday, Governor Josh Shapiro highlighted his plans to create safer communities by investing in Pennsylvania’s 9-1-1 emergency communications system, firefighters, and emergency medical services (EMS) providers during a visit to the Altoona Fire Department.
During his visit, Governor Shapiro met with firefighters and local officials to hear firsthand about the challenges they face and learn more about the support they need from the Commonwealth.
Elected officials on both sides of the aisle praised Gov. Shapiro’s bipartisan leadership, with the Altoona Mirror noting local Republican leaders seemed “uniformly supportive” of the public safety proposals in the budget.
State Rep. Jim Gregory said this may be a “new day” for Pennsylvania, and state Sen. Judy Ward said public safety is “something we can work together on.” Republican City Councilman Dave Ellis also commended Gov. Shapiro, saying of the Governor, “He’s truly someone who supports public safety issues at all levels.”
Gov. Shapiro’s budget proposes investments of $36 million for equipment, training, and staffing needs for firefighters and EMS providers and more than $50 million in county 9-1-1 emergency communications systems.
Read more about the Governor’s visit to the Altoona fire department below.
Altoona Mirror: Shapiro visits Blair County
Democratic Gov. Josh Shapiro came to Altoona Monday to tout the public safety portion of his proposed budget in a press conference that included elected officials who were uniformly Republican — but who seemed uniformly supportive.
The governor’s budget calls for $127 million for fire and ambulance services’ equipment, training and salaries, up by $36 million; a total of $50 million for county emergency communications; and $1.5 million, more than twice what’s currently available, as incentives for intermunicipal cooperation for public safety.
The “optics” of friendly bipartisanship Monday, in keeping with gubernatorial overtures to Republicans in his budget address last month, weren’t an illusion, according to state Rep. Jim Gregory, R-Hollidaysburg, who was in attendance.
“Maybe this is a new day for Pennsylvania,” Gregory said, referring to the frequent accusation that polarization has helped make commonwealth government almost dysfunctional. “In order to get something done, we need his help, and he needs our(s).”
Shapiro’s proposed help for the 911 centers is welcome, according to Patrick Miller, president of the Altoona Fire Department’s Pennsylvania Professional Fire Fighters Association local.
Those centers are a “lifeline” not only for fire departments, but for police and ambulance services, Miller said.
Blair County’s 911 center handles 84,000 calls a year, Webster said.
Statewide, 911 centers are understaffed by 20 percent, Shapiro said.
There are matters about which Pennsylvania Democrats and Republicans are not likely to find common ground, said state Sen. Judy Ward, R-Blair, after the news conference.
Abortion is one of those “non-negotiable(s),” she said. But public safety isn’t.
“It’s something we can work together on,” Ward said.
She’s hopeful that there are other areas. “There’s a lot of room to work,” she said. “A lot of things in the middle.”
It doesn’t matter whether lawmakers are Republican or Democratic, “as long as they focus on issues and solutions,” Shapiro said after the news conference.
Asked about the bipartisan vibe on Monday, Republican City Councilman Dave Ellis answered with a story about an incident that occurred while Ellis was working as a supervisor under Shapiro, when Shapiro was the state’s attorney general.
One of Ellis’s agents was shot and taken to a hospital in Pittsburgh after a drug action went “awry,” Ellis said.
Half an hour later, Shapiro phoned Ellis, and within an hour, Shapiro was on a plane from Philadelphia to Pittsburgh, where he spent the evening in the hospital, Ellis said.
“He’s truly someone who supports public safety issues at all levels,” Ellis stated.
There are “fundamental” matters over which the parties clash, but elected officials should “forget the letter after (their) names” when dealing with public safety, said City Councilman Jesse Ickes, a Republican.
“For too long, partisanship has ruled the day,” Shapiro said. “This (public safety) is an area where we should find common ground.”
The News Item: Shapiro highlights investments in Fire and EMS services in visit to Altoona Fire Department
Gov. Josh Shapiro highlighted his plans to create safer communities by investing in Pennsylvania’s 911 emergency communications system and firefighters, and emergency medical services (EMS) providers during a visit to the Altoona Fire Department.
Shapiro’s budget proposes investments of $36 million for equipment, training and staffing needs for firefighters and EMS providers and more than $50 million in county 911 emergency communications systems.
Shapiro’s first budget makes critical investments in creating safer communities and supporting firefighters and first responders, who are on the frontlines of keeping Pennsylvanians safe.
During his visit, Shapiro met with firefighters to hear firsthand about the challenges they face and learn more about the support they need from the commonwealth.
WJAC: ‘Smart investments:’ Governor Shapiro visits Altoona Fire Dept. to discuss budget proposal
When Governor Josh Shapiro made a visit to the Altoona Fire Department on Monday morning, he was greeted by Lucille, the department’s Arson Dog.
Dogs like Lucille are an expensive luxury to fire departments, who also have to come up with thousands of dollars for everything else they need.
“Trucks and critical equipment like helmets, coats, pants, boots, and hoods. All of that has gone up,” said Governor Shapiro.
That’s why Governor Shapiro says he’s highlighting firefighters, EMS personnel, and law enforcement in his 2023 Budget proposal.
WHTM: Gov. Shapiro speaks on first responder investments in budget proposal
The Altoona Fire Department played center stage for Governor Josh Shapiro Monday morning as he outlines the part of his state budget aimed at helping first responders across the commonwealth.
Shapiro outlined his proposed state investments of $36 million in new equipment, training and salaries for firefighters and EMS personnel. He also detailed a $50 million proposal for Pennsylvania’s 9-1-1 emergency communications systems.
Shapiro said these funds are crucial in helping keep communities safe and departments up and running. He also said the money can take the burden off the county governments.
“We have to act now. We have to make sure those resources are delivered so we can keep our communities safe,” Shapiro said.
YourErie.com: Gov. Shapiro stresses support for fire safety funding
Pennsylvania Governor Josh Shapiro continues to rally support to pay for essential services. This week, he focused on safety for fire services in Altoona.
Gov. Shapiro hopes to gather enough support for as much as $38 million in funding. It’s part of a plan to get communities around the commonwealth to help pitch in to fund what the governor wants to accomplish in his first term that communities like Altoona see all the time.
“In the past year alone, the cost of our personal protective clothing has risen over $1,000 per set, and in the past four years, the cost of our self-contained breathing apparatus has risen by more than $2,000 a piece,” said Altoona Fire Chief Adam Free.
The governor hopes to raise enough support to pay for those improvements statewide.