Senator Regola appears before committee to urge swift approval.
Harrisburg – Legislation to reauthorize the state’s $25 million Volunteer Fire Company and Volunteer Ambulance Service Grant Program for five years was again approved today by the Senate Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee, according to Committee Chair Lisa Baker (R-Luzerne). HB 906 was referred to the full Senate unanimously.
“Our volunteer fire and ambulance companies are the very first line of defense and assistance for our communities and this financial assistance is critical to their work,” Baker said.
Since 2000, the General Assembly has regularly appropriated $25 million to the PA Emergency Management Agency to provide grants to volunteer fire and EMS departments. However, this program is not guaranteed and has lapsed in the past.
The five year authorization would set in place the mechanism to allow for funding on a steady basis, providing a safety net for local volunteer fire departments and ambulance corps.
Senator Bob Regola (R-Westmoreland), the author of the SB 10, appeared before the committee today to urge its passage.
“HB 906, which you have for consideration before you today, is very similar in construction and content to SB 10,” Regola said. “Rather than letting this important program get caught up in inter-chamber or inter-party rivalry, it is of the utmost importance that the Senate approve this legislation without delay. Four months have already been lost to inaction and posturing.”
The program provides volunteer fire companies with grants of up to $15,000 and volunteer ambulance and rescue services with grants of up to $10,000 for construction and renovation of fire houses; the purchase or repair of equipment; and debt reduction. Pennsylvania is home to approximately 2,460 volunteer fire companies.
“We want to get this money out to our volunteers as soon as possible,” Baker said. “These men and women provide a tremendous service to our communities and they deserve our support.”
The grant program is administered by the Office of the State Fire Commissioner under the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency. PEMA also coordinates the state’s successful Volunteer Loan Assistance Program, which helps volunteer companies offset the high cost of equipment and construction by providing them with low-interest loans.
Contact: Brian Grove