PFESI’s 21st Century Project seeks to prepare our first response agencies for the growth and movement of Pennsylvania’s population over the next century.  While our population growth is expected to slow and eventually drop our state from the 5th to 6th most populous state, substantial changes in demographic representation and movement can be expected to create serious staffing and other service issues as we move into the new era.  PFESI has joined with the State Fire Commissioner and others in adopting and advocating the 21st Century Project to respond to these evolving issues.  The 21st Century Project is highlighted by four strategic recommendations, including:

  1. Plan for Consolidation – Local level planning for emergency service consolidation and regionalization should be a top priority.  Local emergency service leaders must develop a positive dialogue with their local governments to help plan for the future.
  2. Plan for Population Shifts – Knowing the dramatic population shifts of recent years, along with those expected in the decades to come, are critical in helping us prepare for the future.
  3. Public Perceptions – Emergency service providers need to educate the public about the importance of,  and difference in, our varied first response agencies.  Better public awareness and engagement is crucial to the long term survival of these agencies.
  4. Restore First Responders as Community Leaders – Local emergency service and community leaders should strive to make their local agencies focal points in each community as a source of local pride and civic engagement.

Link to 21ST CENTURY PROJECT (coming soon)


Pennsylvania was the 5th most populous state in the nation with 12,050,000 people in 1993. By 2000, it’s projected to be the 5th most populous state with 12,296,000 people, and by 2020 the 6th most populous with 12,656,000 people.

Over three decades, the state’s net population increase is expected to total 606,000 or the 30th highest in the nation, while its rate of population change at 5.0% is expected to rant 50th. From 1993 to 2000, the state would have a net increase of 246,000 people, the 24th highest in the nation.  4.7% of the nation’s population resided in the state in 1993 (ranked 5th), compared with 4.5% in 2000 (ranked 5th), and 3.9% in 2020 (ranked 6th).

Pennsylvania is expected to add 343,000 people to its population through international migration between 1990 and 2020, placing it 12th among states.  The state is projected to be ranked 43rd in net internal migration (-213000 persons) between 1993 and 2020.  During the 1990-2020 period, Pennsylvania could have 4,522,000 births and 4,028,000 deaths.  The state could be ranked 7th in births and 5th in deaths.  It would rank 27th in terms of its natural increase (births minus deaths).

The most notable shifts in population will continue to occur in the Central Pennsylvania corridor along Routes 81, 83, and 322 and in the greater Pittsburgh and Philadelphia areas.  In part this will be driven by net jobs gains in these geographic regions.  The new jobs, if the current trends continue, will be concentrate in technology and warehousing/distribution industries.  Approximately two-third of the nation’s population is located within eight hours of the state, making it ideal for these types of businesses.

Pennsylvania still has the largest rural population in the United States and the second oldest population, next to Florida.  The Commonwealth is actively campaigning for new industries that will attract a younger population.

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1950: 10,498,012

1960: 11,319,366

1970: 11,800,766

1980: 11,864.720

1990: 11,882,842

1992(Estimate): 11,988,937

1994(Estimate): 12,058,380

1996(Estimate): 12,056,112


Number of Municipalities circa 1990: 2,584

% Municipalities Over 10,000 Population: 7.9%

% Municipalities (5,000-9,999) Population: 12.0%

% Municipalities (2,500-4,999) Population: 19.1%

% Municipalities (1,000-2,499) Population: 30.0%

% Municipalities (500-999) Population: 16.7%

% Municipalities (<500) Population: 14.4%


Estimated Population circa 1994: 2,052,410

% Population Under 10 Years: 13.4%

% Population (10-14 Years Old): 6.5%

% Population (15-19 Years Old): 7.0%

% Population (20-29 Years Old): 13.8%

% Population (30-39 Years Old): 15.4%

% Population (40-59 Years Old): 23.6%

% Population (60-64 Years Old): 4.5%

% Population (65 and Older): 15.8%

 Types of Households

Number of Households circa 1990: 4,495,966

% Married Couples with children: 25.2%

% Married Couples without children:               30.5%

% Male Headed Households:            3.3%

% Female Headed Households:11.3%

% Single Person Households: 25.6%

% Non-Households: 4.2%


The following counties are ranked in the 10.01% and greater boost in population during 1980-1990:

Adams County

Bucks County

Chester County

Lancaster County

Monroe County

Perry County

Pike County

Union County

Wayne County


The following counties are projected to increase in population (10.01%):


















North Hampton








Pennsylvania will have nearly 200,000 more residents in the year 2000 than it had in 1990.

Southcentral and Northeast Pennsylvania had the fastest population growth between 1990-1995.  The following information was received from the Center for Rural Pennsylvania: “From 1980-1990, the rural population of Pennsylvania grew by just over 4%, from 4.9 million to 5.1 million. This has been a continuing reversal of the decline in rural population which occurred in the 1950s and 60s. The following table lists the Rural Pennsylvania population by region from 1980-1990:

REGIONS               1980                        1990           CHANGE

Total                       4,856,459                5,056,039               4.11%

Southeast              511,702                 580,047     13.34%

Northeast              987,120         1,072,038       8.60%

Southcentral         912,240           1,101,489     10.77%

Central                   829,787                 838,217       1.02%

Southwest             912,266                 879,430      -3.60%

Northwest             703,344                 675,818      -3.91%

Employment By Occupation

# Persons Employed 16 years and older 1990: 5,434,532

% Employed in Professional/Mgmt. Jobs: 25.2%

% Employment in White Collar Jobs: 31.7%

% Employment in Service Jobs: 13.0%

% Employment in Blue Collar Jobs: 30.1%


According to the Statistical Data book from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, traditional families are declining.  The following information dictates the differences in family living across the state.

Children 18 and under: 82% have working mothers

Raising Children:

1.2 million men are raising children by themselves

6.6 million females are raising children by themselves

3.0 million grandparents are raising children

By the year 2000, 85% of new workers will be minorities, women, and immigrants.  Problems will exist with social security benefits and younger generations will have to deal with possibilities of not having social security.


The Population group discussed population shifts in the Commonwealth during past few decades and expected changes in the future.  The population group noted the shifts from the cities to suburban to rural areas as outlined in the research material.  Family changes were covered as they related to a changing populous.  The traditional two parent family continues to change.  Because of the makeup of today’s families less time is available for any volunteer activities.  Commitments to community groups, like emergency services, are declining.  Economics plays a major role in our society as well.

Employees often travel greater distances to work.  These longer commutes make it difficult to balance family and community needs.  Cultural changes in our population have impacted emergency services.

Today, the firehouse of old may not be the social center of the community.  While a dramatic increase in minority populations has occurred, many local emergency service groups have not kept up with these important changes.  Even more cultural changes in the future must be anticipated as emergency services cope with the changing fabric of the Commonwealth’s communities.

The group recommended:

1.  Plan for consolidation- local level planning for emergency service consolidation and regionalization should be a top priority.  Local emergency service leaders must develop a positive dialogue with their local government to help plan for the future.

2.  Plan for population shifts-  knowing the dramatic shifts in our population over the past several decades will help us prepare for even more changes in the future.

3.  Public perception-  emergency services should strive to change the public perception that response groups and agencies are homogeneous.

4.  Renew desire of emergency services as a community leader and community center- local emergency service and community leaders should strive to make firehouse, rescue squad or ambulance service a focal point in the community.


Information provided in this section was received from the Pennsylvania State Fire Commissioner, Mr. Dave Smith.

Each county within the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania has a County Emergency Operations Plan.  The plan consists of ranking the “threats” or problems as either a threat assessment or a resource industry.  Flooding remains at the top for Pennsylvania due in part to flood plains.  Areas such as Philadelphia have a concern with Hazardous Materials and other areas because of high traffic volume and cargo in and out of the city.

Pennsylvania has a PIERS (Pennsylvania Incident Emergency Report System) program.  This program evaluates the unmet needs that each county is most likely facing or would have in the event of an emergency.  Unmet needs would consists of the following: helicopters on a state emergency plan, Liaison Officers (EPLO).  These officers control the resources from individual agencies.  Any Disasters that may occur under this plan evaluate life saving/imminent dangers.

The general hierarchy for emergencies are regarded in the following order: local, county, area, Commonwealth, Federal.

The following listing gives a small detail of what appears in the PIERS booklet:

1. Hazardous Materials (HAZ-MAT)


-Natural Gas Explosion

-Natural Gas Leak


-Pipeline Break/Leak

-Tank Leaks

-Waste Material

-Water Pollution

2. Petroleum Products

-Diesel Fuel Spills

-Gasoline Spill

-Heating Oil Spill

-Kerosene Spill

-Oil Sheen/Slick

-Oil Spills

-Pipeline Break/Leak

-Tank Leaks

3. Fire


-Firefighter Deaths

-Mine Fires

-Structure Fires

-Wild Fires (greater than 500 acres)

4. Adverse/Severe Weather


-Heavy Snow

-High Winds


-Ice Jam



-Severe Thunderstorms


5. Floods

-Flash Floods


6. Nuclear/Radiological

-Event of Potential Public Interest

-Plant Emergency Action Level

-Radiological Transportation Accident

-Radiological Waste

-Radiological Transport Notices

-Theft or Loss of Radiological Source

7. Utility Emergency

-Dam Failure

-Energy Shortages

-Power Failure

-Telephone Failure

-Watermain Breaks

-Water Storage

8. Transportation Emergency

-Aircraft Accident

-Aircraft Crash

-Aircraft Overdue

-Road Closure

-Ship/Barge Aground

-Train De-Railment

-Vehicle Accident

9. Civil Disorders

-Hostage Situation

-Mobilization of PSP or National Guard

-Prison Break/Disturbance


10. Terrorist Activity

-Bomb Threats

-Hostage Situation


11. Search and Rescue

-Cave and Well

-Civil Air Patrol Authorization

-Collapsed Building

-Missing Aircraft

-Missing Persons

12. Evacuation/Shelter in Place -All Evacuations/Sheltering of 25 or More Residences/Businesses

13. Medical Services Emergency

-Evacuation (Patients)


-Outbreak of Disease


14. Other Events and Special Procedures



The Emergency Actions group reviewed recent data collected from the Apparatus Survey.  The group recommended:

1.  Annual third party testing of all aerial equipment-  aerials should be tested by a third party agency like the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation.

2.  Modify requirements for the Volunteer Loan Assistance Program-  current state requirements make it nearly impossible to secure loans for used apparatus.  Change law and regulations as proposed by the Statewide Advisory Board.

3.  Apparatus replacement schedule-  local emergency service leaders, in conjunction with their local government, should prepare plans for future apparatus purchase for at least the next ten years.

4.  Mandatory minimum driver standards & licensing-  criteria should be developed for mandatory minimum standards for emergency service vehicle drivers and licensing.


Education in Pennsylvania is being impacted by such diverse factors as technology, local budgeting, state and federal program focus, and local constitutent concerns.  In July 1997, a focus group of teachers and administrators discussed the anticipated changes they see in schools over the next 20 years.  The group noted that the educational arena is continuing to see slow, but planned, changes in quality assessment and education structure; changes in families, which are having an educational impact; educational skill changes and life safety requirement changes.

One of the major points the group made was that education is being strongly influenced by information technology.  Interactive teaching already starting, using CD rom and the internet, as well as local school computer networks.  Teachers are sharing lesson plans and support materials and students are conducting research and joint-action projects with students in other schools and districts.

Distance learning, particularly in the form of video conferencing is producing financial and educational benefits, as schools and districts can share teachers and develop interactive teaching methods simultaneously.  The technology applications are introducing more independence in learners at lower grade levels and is forcing more facilitating by teachers in a mentoring/guidance types of learning environment.

However, technology also is creating difficulties, particularly in keeping up with technology and with concerns about developing a statewide system that can be consistent and compatible among the Commonwealth’s districts.  New curriculum and lessons must be electronically oriented, which implies that fire safety information should be moving toward interactive games as a tool, and that narrow fire/burn safety programs should be broadened in to life safety skills that can be incorporated across the curriculum spectrum.

Schools also are emphasizing personal responsible and practical life skills.

Lessons are being incorporated that teach students how to get along and work together.

Application of these types of lessons is being tested through community service requirements.   Although these programs still face legal challenges, their goal is to include “school to work” cooperation experiences with community agencies and groups.  There even are programs for individualized developing an plan for each student to volunteer during evening hours

Along with increasing involvement in the community, schools are revisiting their own structures and schedules.  High schools are becoming schools within a school where the emphasis on “going to college” is decreasing and training is new standard.  There are project connections that make use of the school all day  and in the evening, as well as using the facilities year round.  Many of these modifications will make high school, over the next 20 years, look more like the colleges of  today.

Many of these changes comes from family changes.  Dual income families and single parents have had an impact on industry, especially around children’s school and parents work schedules.  Many people do not take traditional summer vacations and many have little time for community service.  These changes are impacting college level changes, as well, where international experience is increasing, as are ties with international businesses.  Lifelong learning is being driven by adults that need to re-tooled and be re-skilled for new jobs and industries.  Consequently, liberal arts programs are moving toward vocational technology and schedules are more flexible.

Schools also continue to grow in a sense that they can’t teach everything.  There is more emphasis on thinking, research, and becoming an informed citizen.  These means that there needs to be an integration of fire and  life safety skills at certain learning levels.  There is an added importance to the  volunteer fire company because it offers community service options.

Governor Ridge is supporting more technology in the Commonwealth’s classrooms.   Project Link to Learn places an emphasis on conferencing and partnerships with school districts.  This project will encompass such areas as having training sessions for teachers so that they will become familiar with the material in the Project and know exactly how to use the material.

The project will support needed knowledge to help with technology investments and allow computers to be used frequently by students and teachers to become familiar to students so that they will be able to become more advanced in computer systems.

The Education group, reviewed information on educating the public about emergency services and fire and life safety.


1.  Statewide focus on fire prevention and safety education-  the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency, through the Office of the State Fire Commissioner, should become a focal point for fire prevention and safety.  By collaborating with county and local entities, fire prevention and safety concerns will be more efficiently communicated and disseminated to the general public.

2.  Share resources- local emergency services, regional groups and state organizations, universities and national programs should better utilize their knowledge and share resources to coordinate a clear and consistent public safety message.

3.  State Department of Education role-  the Commonwealth, through the Department of Education, should help incorporate emergency services training like first aid, CPR, and emergency responder basic training into every level of the educational process.  High school community service requirements must include local emergency service programs.


Over the past twenty years the federal government has increasingly referred authority and responsibiltity to the state level.  Many state governments have subsequently passed more of their authority to local government entites.  Some political scientists have termed this shift in authority as “devolution.”  During a meeting with state, county and local municipal leaders, the group consensus was devolution would continue well into the 21st century.  Some also expressed concern that privitazation, which has occurred in many areas of government, could greatly impact fire and emergency services.  All agreed that regional planning, whether done at the local or county level, was hardly utilized by local emergency service organizations.

As government budgets become even more constrained in the next century, local and state officials will look for even more accountablity of public money in the future.  Fire companies and emergency services will face the same financial scrutiny of other nonprofit and quasi-government entitities receiving tax monies.  Local emergency services constantly call for more government invlovlement in financing and promoting thier concerns.  Government leaders we met with, expressed a strong willingness to keep an open and positive dialogue with their local emergency services.  However, they commented that many emergency service groups need to improve their internal management process.

The “c” word was discussed at length.  Consolidation has been the dity word in the fire service for many years.  With the advent of increasing financial pressures and personnel shortages, many emergency services are considering consolidation and regionalization of services.  The dramatic increase in the cost of new technology like fire apparatus, rescue tools and infared cameras, has forced many emergency service leaders to explore consolidation issues.  Government leaders we interviewed recommended that the state encourage fire companies to consider consolidation with financial incentives.

Codes regonalization-

  • impact on community
  • board established to look at this
  • we want local control
  • contiguous municipalities- greater taxing authority to public

 Fire services –

  • strained and endangered resources, but not broken
  • Which comes first govt or emergency services?
  • Move toward greater cooperation.

Institute should continue to work with DCED to improve communication & cooperation.

Fire service “we are own worst enemy”

competitive purchase, ie apparatus

regional police & water authors– public demand, govt had to control & provide needs

scarce resources, development issues

govt should help FD’s plan for the future

What are needs & goals, objectives?

Performance measurements/regional resources

 How do you define “community”? 

High growth areas on one side and depressed conditions on the other & everything in between.

Group consensus that “government” hasn’t done enough.

Utilize county planning process

In the next century, we will have 67 counties, we will not have 2600 municipalities

Affects of other standards:

courts, OSHA, NFLSA, general public, etc.

planning for service delivery system to save current volunteer/combination system

hard choices- will cost money, efficiency, burn out of volunteers, 3 people in station overnight

level of service- state role in education & courts, may ease pressure for financial demands on local organizations & governments

Physical education credits=community service

Bad tax structure- tax reform

Fire service should be involved in tax reform debate

Impact fees/land use

fire service needs to branch out into these decisions

Model must be developed for fire department community plan

wider share of tax base= 40% of real-estate community & industrial pooled

Strategic plans-

  • get to county & other elected officials

Not a management audit- a model for any FD in PA to follow

Inventory process

county comprehensive plan data

individual needs

strategic goals/objectives

EMS billing

Professional public manager- use those abilities for emergency services- must be major part of planning process

Part of planning process must include level of resources, level of risks, define service that is available, coordinate, organize, plan & implement


1.  Local planning process- emergency services should be intricately involved in the local government planning process on issues such as building codes, land use, and hydrant placement.

2.  Increase county role-  county government should take a more active role in helping local government and local emergency services, through the county planning process, to coordinate the emergency response structure.  Only a regional perspective can be used for future planning of emergency service communications, utilizing quality equipment and facilities with limited resources and improved emergency responder training opportunities.

3.  Funding- emergency services offer “free labor” in 90% of our Commonwealth’s municipalities.  Local government should be specifically charged with meeting their inherent responsibility to properly fund facilities, equipment and training.