Fire and EMS Coalition holding Lobby Day at the Capitol Wednesday

The Wisconsin Fire and EMS Coalition will be meeting with elected officials Wednesday to discuss key issues fire departments are facing across the state.
Published: Mar. 15, 2023 at 4:39 AM CDT
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) -More than 150 firefighters and EMS providers from across the state will descend on Madison Wednesday to meet with elected officials in regard to issues they say are adversely affecting their ability to provide day-to-day services to the communities they serve.

The largest issue the Professional Fire Fighters of Wisconsin say they will be focusing on is the need for an increase in municipal aid to cities, villages and towns across Wisconsin.

“We’ve seen a major staffing crunch across the state, it’s led to not only understaffing but overutilization of overtime, putting strain on our workers,” explained PFFW director of public relations and Madison firefighter Pete Friedericks. He said they need more funding from the state to be able to hire more people to staff rigs. “Then there’s also just the downstream effect of not having money to provide for equipment, stations, the stuff that we need to do our jobs on a day-in-day-out basis.”

PFFW said they are working with both sides of the aisle to find a way forward as the budget is developed. ‘We’re hopeful,’ Friedericks said heading into Lobby Day at the Capitol. “We are asking no matter what the solution is we are taken into account in the needs of our jobs and what we need to do to provide public safety to our communities.”

The second pressing topic the coalition is looking to make ground on is securing PTSD workers compensation for EMS practitioners not attached to a full time fire department, as well as for volunteer firefighters.

Senate Bill 113 is what they are hoping will make its way to Governor Evers’ desk, which stems from 2021 Senate Bill 11 (Act 39), legislation that provided coverage to all law enforcement officers, career firefighters and some Emergency Medical Service (EMS) practitioners if they worked for a fire department.

“What we’re asking for today is an expansion of that bill so that we can provide that coverage to EMS workers who aren’t affiliated with a fire department, for volunteer firefighters across the state, correctional officers, dispatchers and others,” Friedericks said.

According to the Wisconsin Fire and EMS Coalition, approximately 78% of the state’s EMS services and fire departments rely on volunteers.

The press conference is taking place on the Capitol steps at 12:30 p.m.

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