LANSING —State Rep. Henry Yanez (D-Sterling Heights) led the introduction of a five-bill package today that would increase state funding for firefighter training and emergency preparedness programs. Currently, these training programs are funded through grants with money gained through the sale of aerial fireworks, but the money generated has proved inadequate.
“Emergency preparedness covers many situations including fire, active shooter, hazardous materials response, trench rescue, emergency medical and other situations firefighters and fire department emergency medical technicians (EMTs) may be called on to assist at,” said Yanez. “It is critical that our first responders have sufficient and ongoing training to respond to these incidents to keep our families safe.”
Existing training money often goes underutilized because fire departments are not able to send firefighters to training without violating minimum staffing requirements, or they are unable to pay the overtime costs of an off-duty employee picking up an additional shift to enable a colleague to attend training. Yanez’ legislation would allow for compensation, including overtime that fire departments pay to have enough firefighters on duty when others attend training programs. Yanez’ legislation would fund firefighter training by earmarking $6 million dollars from the sales tax, while holding harmless the school aid fund and other programs that receive restricted sales tax revenue.
“Recent mass casualties in Las Vegas and at Parkland, along with our own recent trench collapse tragedy, demonstrate the need to act now to make sure that fire departments are ready if, heaven forbid, a school shooting or other disaster happens here,” said Yanez.