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Ill. fire chief says proposed OSHA standards will negatively impact operations

Colona Fire Chief John Swan said the proposed standards could lead to longer response times and more people dying

By Joshua Shimkus
Moline Dispatch and Rock Island Argus

COLONA, Ill. — Local volunteer fire departments are asking the public to comment on proposed OSHA updates, saying that the new rules will negatively impact their operations.

On Tuesday, July 2 , Colona Fire Chief John Swan held a press conference at the Colona Fire Department to share his concerns.

What it comes down to is cost. The new rules would lead to equipment needing to be replaced, more administrative tasks and responsibilities, more frequent medical exams for firefighter, and new training and certifications required for firefighters. Doing rough calculations, Swan estimated that these rules could easily cost the Colona department an additional $60,000 per year, almost 15% of their annual budget of around $450,000.

“There’s just no way.” Swan said.

Swan acknowledged that the OSHA standards need updating, but said that federal mandates without funding was the wrong way to go about it.


A review of statements and resources from the USFA, NVFC, OSHA Training Institute Education and Firefighters Association of the State of New York

“We’re not against safety, but one size does not fit all.” Swan said. “It’s easy to write rules, if you want a rule. But it’s really hard to adhere to something that’s unfunded.”

Stations that can’t meet these rules will have to shut down, something Swan said could lead to cascading effects.

“Longer response times, more people dying and more buildings going down.” Swan said.

The closure of local volunteer fire departments could also lead to increased insurance costs.


How will the potential changes impact fire departments?

The public has until July 22, 2024 to submit comments to OSHA . The full text of the suggested rule change is available and comments can be submitted at the following web address: https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2024/02/05/2023-28203/emergency-response-standard#open-comment

(c)2024 Moline Dispatch and Rock Island Argus, Ill.
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