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Legislation to Extend Fire/EMS Grant Program

April 14, 2016
FROM:     Don Konkle, Executive Director, PFESI
RE:         Legislation to Extend Fire/EMS Grant Program

House bill 1877 introduced by Rep. Steve Barrar (R-Chester / Delaware) received unanimous support in the House and will now go to the Senate. HB1877 reauthorizes and extends the existing grant program for fire companies and emergency medical services companies in the Commonwealth.

The $30 million grant program is set to expire on June 30, unless action is taken to extend it. HB1877 would extend the program until June 30, 2020.

"This vital program has been highly successful since its inception and is a crucial source of funding for our first responders," 

The proposed amendment to the bill incorporates numerous changes into the grant program to improve its performance and efficiency. The amendment incentivizes certification by providing for a monetary bonus for up to 20 members certified at the Firefighter 1 level or higher. The amendment encourages consolidation by allowing merged fire and EMS companies to continue receiving the aggregate of their grant monies for 10 years following consolidation. This is an increase from five years in existing law.

The bill also allows adds career emergency medical services companies in the grant program and authorizes them to be eligible if they are designated as a municipality's primary EMS provider. An additional requirement for all grant recipients is active reporting in the Pennsylvania Fire Information Reporting System.

Approximately 2,500 grants are awarded annually to fire companies and EMS companies throughout the Commonwealth and the program is funded by gaming proceeds. The proposed amendment also strives to assist in the management of the program by authorizing the state fire commissioner to use up to $800,000 of the fund's unencumbered monies for administrative costs.

Guaranteed cash flow during transition.