Snyder measure would help pay basic utilities for volunteer fire companies

H.B. 698 expands scope of fire relief funds

HARRISBURG, March 3 – State Rep. Pam Snyder, D-Greene/Fayette/Washington, today said she has introduced legislation that would enable fire relief funds to be used to pay basic utility costs at volunteer fire company stations.

“Our brave volunteers deserve to focus on saving our lives and properties and not worrying about how to pay for the heating and lighting at the fire station,” Snyder said. “My legislation, House Bill 698, would permit volunteer fire relief funds to be used toward gas, electric, water and sewage bills.”

Snyder said the state statute governing volunteer fire relief associations allows them to pay for training, gear and apparatus crucial to volunteer firefighters, but not utility costs. She said the men and women working selflessly behind the scenes in relief associations deserve the option to use funds to pay utility bills at the stations.

“Helping to pay for basic utility expenses will free our first responders from having to raise funds just to keep the lights on at the station,” Snyder said. “The volunteers sacrifice so much to keep us safe, and they deserve to be spared this expense whenever possible.

“Utilities are essential, and my measure would ease the monetary and time constraints faced by those on the front lines of public safety.  It helps them help us,” she said.

Snyder said the ranks of volunteer firefighters have plummeted statewide to about 50,000 today compared with an estimated 300,000 in the 1970s.

“Whenever and wherever possible, we must find ways to bolster their ranks,” said Snyder, who also is supporting H.B. 48, which would provide a scholarship program for volunteer first responders.