HARRISBURG (June 27, 2012) A state grant program that volunteer fire and ambulance companies have come to rely upon will be renewed and expanded under a bill passed by both chambers of the General Assembly, Sen. Lisa Baker (R-20) announced today.
“Fire companies across the commonwealth are facing rising costs and falling revenues, forcing many volunteer firefighters to spend vast amounts of time holding pancake breakfasts, chicken barbecues and other fundraisers to make ends meet,” Baker said. “This program provides much-needed funds for equipment, training, and debt service on buildings and fire engines, without burdening local taxpayers.”
Senate Bill 866, which Sen. Baker cosponsored and advanced as the Chair of the Senate Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee, increases the funds available for grants from $25 million to $30 million, and adds paid companies to the program
The program, administered by the Office of the State Fire Commissioner, is renewed for four more years. Without the passage of extension legislation, the program would have expired on June 30.
“This bill has been the top priority of firefighters,” Baker said. “We are pleased to be able to add paid firefighters to the program, so that first responders in cities such as Wilkes Barre, Scranton and Reading—who face the same risks as volunteers—can benefit from the dollars available.”
The program expansion means that the average grant for fire companies will increase from $9,500 to approximately $12,000. Average grants for volunteer ambulance companies will increase from $4,500 to approximately $5,600.
“Firefighters and ambulance crews are usually first on the scene of a tragedy. This program helps to ensure that they are highly trained and well-equipped, for both their protection and the protection of all Pennsylvanians,” Baker said.
Contact: Jennifer Wilson