Pa. FD fined for training injury to 17-year-old junior firefighter
The Shamokin Fire Department was fined for not having a credentialed instructor during the live-burn training, a new requirement in 2023
Republican & Herald
SHAMOKIN, Pa. — Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry officials are urging volunteer fire departments to follow safety protocols after a 17-year-old volunteer was burned during a training exercise at a Shamokin station.
A credentialed state academy fire instructor must be on-site to supervise any live burn trainings that include 17-year-old junior firefighters, officials said in a press release, a requirement due to an amendment to the Child Labor Act that went into effect in January.
The reminder comes after L&I's Bureau of Labor Law Compliance assessed fines against the Northumberland County Friendship Fire & Hose Company/Shamokin Fire Department for the fire companies' failure to have a certified instructor on-site during a live burn training in which a 17-year-old volunteer firefighter suffered non-life-threatening burns.
The Friendship Fire & Hose Company/Shamokin Fire Department was fined $1,000 for the violation.
While Act 155 of 2022 now permits 17-year-old junior firefighters to take part in live-burn interior firefighting training exercises, such training may only be conducted under the Pennsylvania State Academy Fire training system's interior firefighting training module and only when a certified instructor is there at all times.
Each minor must also have permission from a fire chief and from the minor's parent or guardian to participate in such training. Fire companies in violation could be fined up to $5,000 per violation.
"The recent change in the law helps Pennsylvania's volunteer fire companies recruit and train the next generation of volunteer firefighters, which is so important to the safety of our communities. But fire companies must likewise ensure the safety of these young volunteers by following proper safety protocols while training," L&I Secretary Nancy A. Walker said in a recent press release.
Act 155 does not permit minors to perform tasks prohibited by the Pennsylvania Child Labor Act, regardless of their level of training and education.
"The priority during any training event must be to ensure the safety of all those who are participating," State Fire Commissioner Tom Cook said in the release. "It is imperative that we do everything we can to provide high-quality training that is safe, and that it meets or exceeds national standards so that inexperienced and young firefighters can develop their skills without risk of injury."
The Pennsylvania State Fire Academy, which is administered by the Office of the State Fire Commissioner, provides rigorous and safe training courses online, at its training facility in Lewistown and through the Academy on the Road program.
More information about the academy and its course offerings, including the Academy on the Road Program, is available online at www.osfc.pa.gov.
For more information on the Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry, visit www.dli.pa.gov.
(c)2023 the Republican & Herald (Pottsville, Pa.)