PA Legislation Creates Grant Program for Volunteer Firefighters, Ambulance Services

Recognizing the state's volunteer firefighters and ambulance service workers as critical components in emergency response operations, Pennsylvania Gov. Edward G. Rendell yesterday signed legislation establishing a $25 million grant program for volunteer firefighters and volunteer ambulance services.

"Our firefighters and ambulance workers deserve our support," said Rendell. "We need to make sure that they have the proper equipment and resources as they respond to emergencies in communities all across the state. This legislation will provide much-needed financial assistance to help them carry out the important work that they do."

Under the legislation (H.B. 8), a one-time grant will be awarded to each eligible volunteer fire company or volunteer ambulance service for construction or renovation of the fire company's or ambulance service's facility. The grant also can be used to purchase or repair fixtures and furnishings necessary to maintain or improve the capability of the company to provide fire, ambulance and rescue, emergency medical, or basic and advance life support services. It also can be used for the repair or purchase of firefighting, ambulance or rescue services; debt reduction; and training and certification of members.

The legislation designates $22 million to the Volunteer Fire Grant Program and $3 million to the Volunteer Ambulance Service Grant Program. The minimum grant is $2,500; the maximum is $15,000. A volunteer fire company is eligible to receive grant funds if they have actively responded to one or more fire and rescue emergencies since July 1, 2002. The company also must sign an agreement to actively participate in the Pennsylvania Fire Information Reporting System administered by the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency.

The legislation, sponsored by Rep. Larry Sather (R-Blair/Huntingdon/Mifflin), passed the state legislature unanimously and takes effect immediately.

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