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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Feb. 3, 2017
State Fire Commissioner Announces $30 Million Available for Fire and Volunteer Ambulance Grant Applicants
Harrisburg, PA – On behalf of Governor Tom Wolf, State Fire Commissioner Tim Solobay announced today that $30 million in grants will be available to fire and volunteer ambulance companies who applied for the funds through the Fire Company/Volunteer Ambulance Service Grant Program.
Volunteer Emergency Medical Services will receive $3.6 million and Volunteer and Career Fire Companies will receive a total of $26.4 million in funding.
“Companies across the state started the application process several months ago,” said the State Fire Commissioner Tim Solobay. “It’s important for applicants to take the next step in the process and access their grant agreement forms.”
“Once the grant agreements are returned and they are reviewed, the money is disbursed. The awards are processed in the order they are received,” said Solobay. “Detailed instructions are available online, and we are available to help anyone who needs assistance.”
The grant program was initiated in 2000 and is funded by gaming revenue. The program is open to all fire companies, volunteer ambulance services and volunteer rescue squads in Pennsylvania. Grant awards can be used for construction or repair of facilities, purchase or repair of equipment, debt reduction and training.
Solobay said this next step in the grant program builds upon a successful 2016 in the OSFC.
“In 2016 alone, we processed more than 3,200 national level firefighter certifications and over 9,000 additional certificates,” Solobay said. “Since 1995 when the office was first charged with responsibility for the certifications, more than 33,000 certifications have been earned by men and women in the fire service in Pennsylvania. It’s a positive sign that people who want to do this job want to do it well and keep up with their training.”
Solobay said the State Fire Academy in Lewistown conducted 539 training sessions either at the facility or at local sites across the state. Academy staff rewrote training and instructor curriculums, released new programs for emergency service providers and attended development programs as both attendees and presenters.
One of the biggest changes in the Office is the switch to an almost entirely electronic application for grants and the automation of all payments and disbursements in the loan program. These changes save time and money, and makes the process more customer-friendly.
Solobay said one of his goals for 2017 is to achieve 100 percent compliance with the Pennsylvania Fire Incident Reporting System (PennFIRS.) PennFIRS is a tool that provides for reviewing and analyzing Pennsylvania’s fire situation, as well as a national picture because the data is shared with the National Fire Data Center. At the beginning of 2016, only about 20 percent of fire companies used the system; that number rose to 80 percent by the end of the year. Departments wishing to apply for and receive a grant under the Fire Company Emergency Medical Service Grant Program (FCEMS) beginning with the 2017-18 grant period must use PennFIRS in order to be eligible to apply for the grant.
Sadly, OSFC staff also assisted fire companies and family survivors after six Line of Duty Deaths in 2016.
Solobay said the office plans to increase citizen outreach efforts to spread the message of fire prevention and safety among children, families and older Pennsylvanians.
Learn more about the fire service in Pennsylvania by visiting OSFC online at www.OSFC.pa.gov, and like facebook.com/PAOSFC.