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Shuster Applauds House Action to Protect Pennsylvania Volunteer Firefighters

WASHINGTON – Yesterday, the House of Representatives voted unanimously to pass H.R. 3685, the Protecting Volunteer Firefighters and Emergency Responders Act. Congressman Shuster is an original cosponsor of this bill, which protects fire departments across the state by preventing a crippling Obamacare mandate from forcing them to provide insurance for volunteers.

“There is nothing more admirable than putting your life on the line to protect friends and neighbors,” said Shuster. “Our volunteer firefighters are there to bravely answer the call of duty, and in communities across Pennsylvania they are the first line of defense against fire. In our state over 90% of the firefighters are volunteers, and it is irresponsible that the president to has imposed a law that would prevent them from serving the public.”

According to the U.S. Fire Administration, there are 1,800 registered fire departments in Pennsylvania, and 97% of the firefighters in the state are volunteers or mostly volunteers. Under Obamacare, organizations with more than 50 employees are obligated to provide health insurance for those working more than 30 hours a week, but the law does not make a distinction between employees and volunteers. This would force countless fire departments across Pennsylvania to cover the cost of their volunteers’ health insurance, a move that would cripple the volunteer firefighting force.

“I have been fighting Obamacare from the very beginning, and have always believed that the president’s misguided efforts at health care reform would hurt hardworking Americans of every background,” Shuster said. “What is even more outrageous is that in this case, President Obama is forcing everyday American heroes to hang up their equipment and close the doors to their fire stations. Over the past few months I have heard the concern of firefighters across the 9th District, and was proud to fight on their behalf as an original cosponsor of this bill. We need to stand by our first responders, and with this legislation the House has ensured that these brave men and women can continue protecting families and businesses across Pennsylvania.”

Congressman Shuster has consistently supported 9th District fire departments in their efforts to secure over 25 grants totaling more than $9 million since 2010. The grants have helped these departments procure much-needed supplies, including essential items such as hydraulic rescue equipment, replacement radios, breathing apparatuses, and new fire-resistant gear.