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New York Assemblyman and firefighters call on OSHA to revise proposed emergency response rules

Assemblyman D. Billy Jones is joined by fire and EMS officials to discuss proposed OSHA rules
Pat Bradley
Assemblyman D. Billy Jones is joined by fire and EMS officials to discuss proposed OSHA rules

New York state Assemblyman D. Billy Jones was at a fire station in Plattsburgh today to urge his constituents to speak out against a proposed federal rule change that he says will negatively impact fire and EMS services across the state and country.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has proposed changes to its rules regarding fire department and EMS training and equipment requirements.

NYS Association of Fire Chiefs Immediate Past President and Plattsburgh District 3 Deputy Fire Chief Scott Ewing said there are numerous concerns about the revised standards.

“OSHA has designated a one-size-fits-all standard. That does not reflect the unique challenges, capacities of career, volunteer and EMS organizations,” Ewing said. “This proposed rule would be extremely difficult, if not completely impossible for small and rural fire departments and districts to comply with and could hinder an already short supply of fire and EMS providers.”

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Morrisonville-Schuyler Falls Volunteer Ambulance Service Assistant Director of Operations Craig Roberts says the new rules would present unique challenges to the EMS industry.

“To begin with the proposal has some verbiage about extending these regulations to include EMS providers and services. Much of that language is fairly ambiguous and unclear as to how much of this will be applicable to private, stand-alone agencies,” said Roberts. “These regulations, should they indeed apply to small independent entities will severely impact our ability to respond to the needs of the public. Private stand-alone EMS agencies, that is ambulance services that are not part of a fire department, would face significant unique hardships should these standards be implemented.”

Assemblyman D. Billy Jones, a Democrat from the 115th district, emphasized that they fully support training and safety programs. But the Democrat says OSHA needs to come to a compromise that will accommodate smaller and volunteer departments.

“This will impose mandates and regulations on our volunteer fire departments and EMS providers that is just not attainable. This will have significant impacts on tax levies in towns and villages and fire districts all over the state, all over the country,” Jones said. “We are not talking about impeding on safety here. We’re talking about rules and regulations that are not attainable and it’s going to put such a financial burden on these fire departments, our local towns, villages and fire districts.”

OSHA has extended the comment periodand Assemblyman Jones and firefighters want people to submit their concerns by the July 22nd deadline.