Feb. 21, 2024

Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency (PEMA) Director David Padfield, Executive Deputy Director Jeff Boyle, and State Fire Commissioner Thomas Cook, along with Deputy Fire Commissioner JC Tedorski from the Office of the State Fire Commissioner (OSFC), testified today before the House Appropriations Committee. House Republicans focused their questions on the fiscal management of PEMA and how they are using their state and federal dollars to ensure Pennsylvania is prepared to handle emergencies.

House Republicans questioned the State Fire Commissioner about Governor Shapiro’s new initiative to take an additional $30 million out of the Property Tax Relief Fund to increase funding for the Fire and Emergency Medical Services Grant Program. Providing funds to support emergency services is critically important; however, anytime money is taken from the Property Tax Relief Fund, fewer dollars are available to help reduce property taxes for Pennsylvania homeowners.

Key Takeaways

· Governor Shapiro has YET to present a plan to help local governments with the growing problem of recruitment and retention of volunteer fire fighters. House Republicans were concerned to hear that currently funded positions within the OSFC to help with recruitment and retention have remained unfilled for four years.

- The mission of PEMA is critical to the safety of all Pennsylvanians, but equally critical is for the agency to demonstrate financial accountability.

- House Republicans asked why the Governor is proposing a supplemental appropriation of $1.6 million in the current year with no public explanation.

- PEMA was also asked what steps are being taken internally to ensure all programs operate at full efficiency – specifically in the 911 program – and what actions are being taken to fix underperforming programs - more positions does not mean more efficiency.

Notable Q&A

Rep. Kristin Marcell asks the State Fire Commissioner why the Shapiro Administration is not doing more to help with the recruitment and retention of volunteer fire fighters. 

Rep. Clint Owlett asked PEMA why their staffing needs are drastically increasing and how long the OFSC has been waiting to fill positions to help with the recruitment and retention of volunteer firefighters. 

Full Hearing

Watch the full hearing here.

Rep. Seth Grove, Republican Chairman of the PA House Appropriations Committee
196th Legislative District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives