HARRISBURG – The Senate approved two bills today that would help fire and EMS companies deal with some of the most significant challenges they face today, according to Senator Mike Regan (R-Cumberland & York).
The bills, which came through the Senate Veterans Affairs & Emergency Preparedness Committee chaired by Senator Regan, focuses on easing the financial pressures faced by fire and EMS companies due to increasing costs of equipment and training. The bills also address the dwindling number of volunteers and other personnel dedicated to providing emergency response in communities across Pennsylvania.
“This legislation encompasses a number of recommendations from the Senate Resolution 6 Fire & EMS Commission, and I am pleased to help advance it on behalf of our first responders, who do so much for us,” said Regan.
Senate Bill 908, sponsored by Sen. Regan, would make significant changes to both the Volunteer Loan Assistance Program (VLAP) and Fire Relief Program.
The legislation changes VLAP to the Fire and Emergency Medical Services Loan Assistance Program. Further the bill increases the maximum loan amounts allowed, and creates a voter referendum to enable the state’s 22 paid fire and EMS companies and 72 combination paid and volunteer companies to access the program.
Senate Bill 908 would also move administration of the Fire Relief Program from the Auditor General to the State Fire Commissioner, expand the allowable list of uses of Fire Relief funding, and provide for a study of the current funding formula.
“These programs are extremely beneficial to our fire and EMS providers,” stated Regan. “In 2018, $55.1 million was distributed to over 2,500 municipalities through the Fire Relief Program alone, so it is important we ensure full access and appropriate administration of them.”
Senate Bill 910, introduced by Senator Doug Mastriano (R-33), would extend the Fire Company and Emergency Medical Services Grant Program, which is set to expire in June of this year, to June 2024. The bill would also expand the allowable use of funds to include recruitment and retention programs, as well as volunteer fire length of service awards.
Both bills now go to the House of Representatives for consideration.
CONTACT: Nate Silcox, 717-787-8524 firstname.lastname@example.org