Burns votes to support volunteer fire/EMS companies

Legislation creates $31 million emergency grant program

HARRISBURG, May 28 – On Thursday state Rep. Frank Burns voted to create a $31 million emergency grant program for volunteer fire and EMS companies, many of which are struggling after the coronavirus hamstrung spring fundraising activities.

“After hearing from our local volunteers about how the coronavirus has stretched their already thin resources, I supported and pushed for this legislation to move it across the finish line,” Burns said. “We ask our emergency responders to support us every day, often under the most difficult conditions imaginable. Today we voted to support them, and I urge the governor to quickly sign this legislation so we can get these grants headed to our first responders.”

While under stay-at-home orders, fire companies could not 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.

The emergency grant program would build off of the 2019 Fire Company and Emergency Medical Services Grant Program, which, according to information from the state Fire Commissioner’s Office, is or has distributed more than $460,000 to help Cambria County fire and EMS companies purchase equipment, maintain their facilities and train first responders. Eligible companies that did not apply for or receive a fire and EMS grant in fiscal year 2019-20 would be required to apply for this funding.

In addition to the emergency grant program, Burns also voted to pass legislation to amend the state liquor license rules to remove a $700 annual surcharge for national veterans’ organizations and volunteer fire companies to provide these important civic organizations with measure of financial relief.

“Local veterans’ organizations, many of which are civic institutions in their communities, have been hard hit, like many other organizations,” Burns said. “This legislation will give them, and our volunteer fire companies some relief during this crisis.”