HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – Junior firefighters are one step closer to having access to improved training in Pennsylvania.

The State House unanimously approved a bill by Rep. Torren Ecker (R-Adams/Cumberland) to prepare junior firefighters for becoming full firefighters.

“Volunteer fire companies across the nation, and right here in Pennsylvania, are facing staff shortages that is projected to only get worse if nothing is done,” Ecker, a former junior firefighter, said. “This bill will help prepare firefighters who are just beginning to serve and will entice them to stay in the fire service.”

House Bill 2268 would permit a 17-year-old junior firefighter to complete the Interior Firefighting Module with Live Burns training program in the Fire Training System. Currently, only people 18 and over are allowed to enroll in the training program.

In order to take the additional training at 17, junior firefighters would need to have the permission of their parents and fire chief. This would mean that when a junior firefighter turns 18 years old, he or she would immediately be able to serve their community as a full-fledged firefighter.

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The legislation now goes to the Senate for consideration.