Vermont fire officials say OSHA, is putting stress on fire departments statewide

Vermont fire officials say OSHA, is putting stress on fire departments statewide. It comes after the federal agency proposed sweeping changes to departments nationwide, changing what they call ‘emergency response standards’ for firefighters. Bristol Fire Department Chief Brett LaRose says his department’s budget is already stretched thin. “It’s about safety, it’s about health, it’s about having quality equipment, protecting your firefighters. But there is a significant price tag that is associated with these new rules,” said LaRose. He’s worried that with new regulations, Bristol Fire Department altogether could be in jeopardy. These ‘emergency response standards’ haven’t been updated since the 1980′s, and the federal agency has prepared a more than 600-page document outlining potential changes. It includes additional training, costly bi-annual physical exams, added staff, and updated equipment. Peeker Heffernan, the president of the Vermont State Firefighters’ Association, says the proposed rules may not bode well for many of the state’s small volunteer operations. For most departments, their budget is going to at least double,” said Heffernan. The Vermont State Firefighters Association is encouraging every fire station in the state to look over the rules and submit a comment on what they think may not work. The comment period ends on July 22nd.