HARRISBURG – In Pennsylvania, fire companies are forced to operate under a “use it or lose it” philosophy when it comes to reception of grant money, and State Rep. Matt Gabler (R-Clearfield/Elk) is fighting to change that.
“One of the few weaknesses in the fire grant program is that it ties the hands of the recipient by requiring them to use these funds right away, even if a single year’s grant allocation is insufficient to allow completion of a given project,” Gabler said.
“As a member of the House Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee, I was successful in amending a piece of legislation to allow fire companies to bank their grant money for up to five years, enabling them to apply these funds toward larger projects.”
“Incorporating this provision will reduce the burden of fundraising on our volunteer firefighters and minimize the interest they need to pay on loans that are their only option under the program as it currently exists,” continued Gabler.
The original intent of House Bill 1834, which passed the House unanimously Monday, was to re-authorize the Fire and EMS Grant Program. In addition, the legislation would expand eligible uses of these grants.
“I hope my Senate colleagues quickly take up what truly is a great piece of legislation,” added Gabler. “House Bill 1834 gives our fire companies an important tool they need by allowing grant money to be used for recruiting and retaining volunteers.
“Thanks to my amendment, it also lets fire departments more effectively and efficiently use the funding that is allocated for their benefit.”
Questions about this legislation or any state-related matter may be directed to Gabler’s DuBois office at 814-375-4688, his St. Marys office at 814-781-6301 or Clearfield office at 814-765-0593.