Senate Approves Fire & EMS Grants Extension

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The Senate passed a bill that reauthorizes a popular Fire/EMS grant program for four years, according to Senator Randy Vulakovich, Chairman of the Senate Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee.

Under House Bill 1877, the Fire and Emergency Medical Services grant program is reauthorized to continue for an additional four years until June 30, 2020.  The program receives $30 million in total funding with $25 million from the State Gaming Fund and $5 million from the Property Tax Relief Fund.  The bill would for the first time allow “career emergency medical services” to apply for grants under certain conditions.  Furthermore, fire companies would be required to respond to at least ten calls a year, participate in the state fire reporting system, and incentive companies to have members receive their Fire Fighter 1 Certification.

“We are aware of the financial and recruiting problems many of our fire departments face,” said Sen. Vulakovich.  “Vehicles cost half a million dollars or more.  Clothing and equipment costs thousands of dollars and construction and maintenance of stations can be beyond the means of many departments.  That’s why this grant program is important for those organizations and the communities they serve.”

Currently, all fire companies, volunteer ambulance services and volunteer rescue squads are eligible for grant funding.  The grants may be used for construction or renovation of a unit’s station, the purchase or repair of equipment, training or debt reduction.  The maximum grant amount is $15,000 for fire companies and $10,000 for volunteer ambulance services.

Since the bill was amended prior to its approval by the Senate Veterans Affairs & Emergency Preparedness Committee in May, it will return to the House of Representatives for concurrence.

Contact:          Nate Silcox     (717) 787-6538 or nsilcox@pasen.gov.

More information about state issues is available at Senator Vulakovich’s website, www.senatorvulakovich.com or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/SenatorRandyVulakovich.