Merski, Harkins announce nearly $97,000 in fire grants

Awarded to offset COVID-19-related expenses

ERIE, Oct. 8 – State Reps. Bob Merski and Pat Harkins, both D-Erie, announced today that four fire companies in their districts will be receiving $96,849 in state grants for operational expenses incurred because of COVID-19. 

The lawmakers said the grants are being awarded by the Office of State Fire Commissioner to offset expenses related to the pandemic.

“The pandemic has compounded the financial burden on our fire and EMS services in so many ways, forcing departments to acquire new protective equipment and answer a higher volume of calls,” Merski said. “This funding should help alleviate the financial strain and ensure our incredibly dedicated first responders have what they need to continue their lifesaving work.”

Harkins agreed, saying, “Before the pandemic, fire and rescue companies were able to count on fundraising events as a source of supplemental income, but that revenue source has dried up because of COVID-19. At the same time, rescue workers are expected to be out there answering a high volume of calls while fighting new risks. It’s a tough job made tougher, but it’s our hope that this grant funding will help.”

The lawmakers said the following fire companies will receive the following amounts:

  • Belle Valley Fire Department Inc. – $23,425.
  • City of Erie Fire Department – $25,342.
  • Lawrence Park Volunteer Fire Department – $22,740.
  • Perry Hi-Way Hose Company – $25,342.

The funding may be used for operational expenses such as apparatus repair, fuel, personal protective equipment, utilities, insurance and lost revenue related to pandemic restrictions. It may also be used for cleaning, sanitizing and disinfecting equipment and property or other expenses needed to prevent the spread of disease.

The funds must be used for expenses initiated on or after March 6 and completed on or before Dec. 30 to be eligible for the grant program.

Additional information about the grants is available here.