New regulations developed by the U.S. Labor Department could cripple local departments that depend on volunteers to fight fires. Unless Congress can roll back these rules, volunteer operations and the citizens who support them may have to look at a full-time paid fire service.
Local fire/rescue members tell us that training requirements have already been increased to such an extent that it's difficult to recruit new volunteer members. Now the Occupational Safety and Health Administration wants to require additional firefighters on the scene and dictate their physical condition and the type of breathing apparatus they must use - and all by Oct. 8.
Additional firefighters would be required under the "two in/two out" rule, which states that when two firefighters go into a burning building, two more must be outside to provide assistance or to rescue those inside, if necessary. Other rules would mandate yearly medical evaluations, including stress tests, for firefighters and a major change in the type of breathing apparatus used.