Senate Endorses Legislation To Extend Volunteer Fire and Ambulance Grants

Harrisburg – Senator Lisa Baker (R-Luzerne) today voted for legislation to reauthorize the state’s $25 million Volunteer Fire Company and Volunteer Ambulance Service Grant Program for five years. House Bill 906 passed the State Senate unanimously and now moves to the House for consideration.

Baker, who chairs the Senate Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee said the grants provide a vital resource to the state’s first responders.

“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.

Baker said House Bill 906 is similar to Senate Bill 10, which the Senate passed earlier this year.

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.

“I hope the House will act quickly on this legislation so that we can 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 and the resources they need to do their jobs safely and effectively.”

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
bgrove@pasen.gov
(570) 675-3931