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House of Representatives
Session of 2019 - 2020 Regular Session


Posted: March 26, 2020 04:15 PM
From: Representative Pam Snyder
To: All House members
Subject: COVID-19 Crisis Grant Program for Volunteer Fire & EMS Companies
Our first line of defense against the novel coronavirus known as COVID-19 includes our volunteer fire companies and emergency medical services agencies. They are being asked to expose themselves to this deadly virus that is impacting our state at an unprecedented scale.

Even while facing this grave threat to their health, our first responders are being put in an unsustainable financial bind. The Governor's efforts to slow the spread of the virus have made fundraising by volunteer fire companies all but impossible. At the same time, medical facilities and the public are postponing other medical treatments, which has led to a stark decline in the number of non-emergency calls being run by our EMS agencies -- and those are the calls that often pay the bills for these first responders.

Our firefighters and EMS personnel need immediate financial assistance. I am proposing a COVID-19 Crisis Fire & EMS Grant Program to provide an additional, one-time grant to each fire and EMS company agency that has been approved by the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency and the Office of the State Fire Commissioner for an annual grant for the 2019-20 fiscal year. Crisis grants would be automatically awarded with no need for companies to apply. The program would end after 180 days.

The grants will be funded by a one-time transfer of $30 million from the Volunteer Companies Loan Fund, which has previously been done to balance the state budget in both 2014 and 2016. I will pursue separate legislation to restore this funding when the immediate emergency passes.

I hope you will join me in recognizing the extraordinary need to support our volunteer fire companies and EMS agencies in this challenging time by co-sponsoring my bill to create the crisis grant program. Our first responders answer the call for us, and we must do the same for them.

Introduced as HB2374