Pharsalia fire chief: Federal regs are strangling rural fire departments

PHARSALIA – With a growing number of federal mandates being pushed onto local fire departments, the fire chief in Pharsalia is speaking out about how some mandates – namely a new requirement for departments to purchase rappelling equipment for every set of firefighter turnout gear – may cause more hurt than help.

Pharsalia Fire Chief Ken Granger said his department faces a struggle shared by many volunteer-based rural fire departments throughout the region: strict federal requirements and a tight budget. But it’s a recent requirement from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) for departments to buy rappelling gear to scale multiple story buildings that’s been the straw that he said might break the camel’s back.

In August 2012, Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed into law legislation that has an impact on the escape systems firefighters at risk of entrapment at elevations must carry. Section 27-a of the Labor Law requires that employers assess the risk of entrapment at elevations and provide equipment and training to address that particular risk.

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