Firefighter Legislation Signed into Law

OKLAHOMA CITY – Legislation signed into law today will improve on a current training incentive for firefighters, according to the bill’s author.

“I first authored House Bill 1835 last year and am very pleased to see it signed into law this session,” said state Rep. Mike Sanders, R-Kingfisher. “It changes the firefighter training incentive to an earned performance-based training system. Our rural firefighters need to be able to address a variety of natural disasters, especially wildfires and severe storms. Since there are already incentives in place, this is not an additional expense, but simply a better use of an existing appropriation.”

Sanders said lawmakers have had to fight to ensure the continued existence of the incentive in the past.
“We’ve had terrible fire seasons and I cannot believe anyone would push for the removal of this critical training incentive,” Sanders said. “The majority of towns and cities in Oklahoma are small rural communities that rely on rural fire departments. Eliminating some incentives is necessary and appropriate, but not when it affects public safety, I can’t fathom slashing such an important tool.”

House Bill 1835 requires a volunteer to complete 12 initial credit hours toward the State Support or State Basic Firefighter or Firefighter I, an equivalent or other training approved by the Council of Firefighter Training in order to receive the incentive. The legislation also allows local fire chiefs to approve volunteer firefighter training and requires volunteer firefighters to annually complete six hours of State Support or State Basic Firefighter or Firefighter I. Volunteers who have completed these courses must complete six hours of Intermediate or Advance Firefighter or Firefighter I to be eligible for the incentive.

The measure modifies the membership and appointment requirements of the Council on Firefighter Training, increases the number of annual meetings of the council to six and makes the council responsible for consistent basic and continuing education programs for all ranks and positions.

“This is a comprehensive reform of this earned incentive with the goal of improving the quality of firefighter training,” Sanders said. “I think this will make our communities much safer.”

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