The Senate Veterans Affairs & Emergency Preparedness Committee today (April 20) reported out legislation introduced by Senator Joe Pittman (R-41st) and Senator Camera Bartolotta (R-46th) that would establish a special one-time grant program for Pennsylvania’s volunteer fire companies and EMS squads as they address the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak.
Seven Republicans voted for the bill and four Democrats voted against the measure.
“I never imagined partisanship would ever transcend into providing essential funding to our local volunteer fire departments and EMS programs, but today it did,” Senator Pittman said. “Nevertheless, I will continue to support our dedicated first responders, especially as they serve our citizens during one of the most trying times in our nation’s history.”
Recognizing that the ongoing response to the COVID-19 outbreak is placing a severe financial crisis on those vital first responders, Senate Bill 1122 provides for a one-time grant to each fire and EMS Company matching the ones previously approved by PEMA and the Office of the State Fire Commissioner for the 2019-20 Fiscal Year.
“Many of these great organizations struggle financially under normal circumstances and the current situation has certainly exacerbated that need,” Senator Pittman said. “It is incumbent on the Commonwealth to support our volunteer fire companies and EMS agencies as they continue to protect and serve our communities during these challenging times.”
“COVID-19 has severely restricted many of the ways that our volunteer first responders traditionally raise money, like boot drives and chicken barbeques. The needs of these organizations are even greater now as they respond to the statewide public health emergency this virus has caused,” Senator Bartolotta said. “This program will ensure the men and women on the front lines in the battle against the coronavirus will continue to have the training, supplies and equipment they need to keep our communities – and themselves – safe.”
Senate Bill 1122 now goes to the full Senate for consideration.