Firefighters receive state funds
Auditor General Eugene DePasquale this week announced he has released nearly $60 million in aid to support volunteer firefighters across Pennsylvania – a nearly $5 million increase over last year.
“State aid provided to volunteer firefighters’ relief associations helps dedicated first responders save lives and protect our communities,” DePasquale said during a visit to the Steelton Fire Department in Dauphin County.
Under DePasquale’s 2019 state aid distribution, 2,518 municipalities received $59.99 million for distribution to volunteer firefighters’ relief associations. The funding comes from a 2 percent state tax on fire insurance premiums purchased by Pennsylvania residents from out-of-state insurance companies.
The state aid helps to reduce burdens on local taxpayers, according to Eugene Vance, fire chief of the Steelton Fire Department and president of the Steelton VFRA.
“Every year, it gets harder and harder to keep up. The number of volunteers keeps dropping. Our costs keep going up. Money is tight,” said Vance, who has been a volunteer firefighter for nearly 50 years.
In addition to distributing the funding to VFRAs, the Department of the Auditor General also audits those organizations to ensure state aid is spent appropriately. The state aid was distributed to municipalities on Sept. 16 and must be transferred to VFRAs within 60 days of receipt.
Carbon County fire departments received a total of $353,983.12 and Schuylkill County received $710,184.40.
In Monroe County, Chestnuthill Township received $93,103.90; Eldred Township, $15,780.01; Polk Township, $41,304.90, and Ross Township, $31,290.95.
In Lehigh County, Slatington received $18,629.05 and Washington Township. $38,907.31
In Northampton County, Lehigh Township received $64,195.59 and Walnutport received $10,446.32.