The Warren Fire Department has received grant money for the first time from the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency and Office of the State Fire Commissioner.
House Rep. Kathy Rapp reported that 35 fire departments and ambulance organizations in Forest, McKean, and Warren counties were awarded approximately $355,030 in grants.
"I am very pleased to see that hundreds of thousands of dollars will yet again benefit first responders throughout Warren, Forest, and McKean counties. Many of these companies struggle to pay basic necessities, such as fuel and other operating costs, and have little money left to upgrade their facilities or their equipment," Rapp said in a press release.
The funding comes from slot machine gambling proceeds rather than general fund tax revenue.
A Pennsylvania General Assembly vote last fall extended and expanded the decade-old program for an additional four years. The total grant funding was increased from $25 million to $30 million and included financial assistance to some paid municipal fire companies.
"This is the first year the grant has been open to career fire departments," said Warren Fire Chief Sam Pascuzzi. "In the past, it was only for volunteer departments, so that's why we haven't received it until this year."
According to Joe Beardsley, operations and training officer for the Warren Fire Department, the applications for the grants were submitted in November.
"We had to request funds for specific items we needed," Beardsley explained. "We're upgrading the current equipment we have and providing better equipment for our firefighters."
The upgrades include leather structural firefighting boots, structural firefighting gloves, and a new large diameter hose.
In Warren County, the following 29 fire departments and ambulance services received a total of $290,555.85 in funding:
$13,116.29: Glade Township Volunteer Fire Department.
$13,114.22: City of Warren Fire Department.
$12,146.38: North Warren and Wrightsville VFDs.
$11,984.95: Scandia VFD.
$11,822.84: Pleasant VFD.
$11,661.42: Russell, Sheffield and Spring Creek Township VFDs.
$11,500: Bear Lake, Cherry Grove, Clarendon, Garland, Grand Valley, Lander, Sugar Grove, Tidioute and Youngsville VFDs.
$10,030: Columbus VFD.
$9,500: Starbrick VFD.
$6,651.49: Clarendon, Grand Valley, Pleasant, Russell, Scandia, Sugar Grove and Youngsville Volunteer EMS services and Sheffield Volunteer Ambulance Service.
$4,998.61: Tidioute VEMS.