Burns amendment providing emergency funding to more fire departments adopted by House

Legislation provides $30 million to volunteer fire, EMS companies

HARRISBURG, April 28 – After listening to dire concerns of local firefighters, state Rep. Frank Burns negotiated an amendment to a Republican bill that would expand eligibility for volunteer fire companies to get much needed emergency funding.  

On Monday, the Pennsylvania House of Representatives voted unanimously to support the amendment by Burns, D-Cambria, that ensures more volunteer fire and EMS companies in Pennsylvania would have access to a potential $30 million in emergency state funding.

“I was contacted by several local fire companies who were concerned they wouldn't qualify for the emergency funding,” Burns said. "After reviewing the legislation, I realized they were right. Several fire companies in Cambria County would have been cut out of any emergency funding, so I quickly reached across the aisle and negotiated an amendment to ensure that our local fire departments are treated fairly and will receive the emergency funding they need."

With stay-at-home orders still in place, fire companies cannot conduct their regular fundraising activities, Burns noted. This legislation would provide volunteer fire and EMS companies with emergency grants to help them survive in these difficult times.

Under the legislation, a COVID-19 Crisis Fire & EMS Grant Program would provide a one-time grant to each fire and EMS company agency that has received funding from the Office of State Fire Commissioner in any of the last three years. Crisis grants would be automatically awarded with no need for companies to apply. The program would end after 180 days.

The grants would be funded by a one-time transfer of $30 million from the Volunteer Companies Loan Fund. The measure, H.B. 2413, is expected to receive a final vote in the House today, before heading to the state Senate for consideration.