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Steve Hirsch, first vice chair and Kansas state director of the National Volunteer Fire Council. (NVFC). (Submitted photo)
Steve Hirsch, first vice chair and Kansas state director of the National Volunteer Fire Council. (NVFC). (Submitted photo)

FASNY voices concern about proposed OSHA changes


Thu, Jun 20th 2024 07:25 pm

Submitted by the Firefighters Association of the State of New York

The Firefighters Association of the State of New York (FASNY) gathered in Buffalo today to express their serious concerns about proposed changes to federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulations governing both career and volunteer fire departments. If these proposed regulations are implemented as presently written, there will be a profound negative impact on New York state’s almost 1,700 volunteer fire departments, as well as volunteer fire departments across the nation. 

These proposed changes to OSHA regulations 1910.156, while well intentioned, may lead to:

√ An increase of 2½ times to the number of hours required for basic firefighter training.

√ A requirement of certain specific training classes that are presently either rarely available or not even offered by the New York State Fire Academy or any other local jurisdictions in NYS.

√ Changes to firefighter medical screenings, training requirements, and other mandates that will significantly increase the costs of providing fire protection to local fire departments/local governments.

√ And many other administrative, operational and financial challenges.

OSHA has not made changes to these regulations in 40 years and is now proposing major changes with limited – if any – consideration on the impacts these new mandates will have on local fire departments – both career and volunteer – especially small and rural fire departments like many here in the Western New York Region. If OSHA is successful, the new requirements would create significant administrative and operational difficulties and could ultimately compromise public safety – all while driving up the costs of providing fire protection.

The time donated by volunteer firefighters saves the country more than $46.9 billion annually. In New York state alone, volunteers save residents almost $4 billion annually in additional property taxes by donating their time and efforts. If OSHA moves forward with these regulations, communities will have to make some tough decisions: close the doors of the volunteer fire departments; increase taxes to try to comply with the new rules; or operate outside of the new federal standard – leaving themselves open to fines, citations, and civil liability exposure should an injury or death occur.

FASNY is urging fire departments across the state, local officials and the general public to take some time to understand how these proposed regulations would affect public safety in their communities. FASNY also encourages community members to file comments with OSHA. 

Dave Denniston, chairman of the NFVC OSHA Task Force. (Submitted photo)

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