$150k in state funds to benefit volunteer firefighters

A state-wide annual disbursement of funds aimed to support volunteer firefighters will bring just over $150,000 in funding to departments in Warren County.

The state Auditor General announced the release of nearly $60 million in funding on Tuesday.

The funds are allocated to municipalities who in turn hand the funding over to a volunteer fire department’s (VFD) volunteer firefighters’ relief association (VFRA). The funding comes from a two percent tax levied on fire insurance sold in the Commonwealth by out-of-state companies.

“State aid provided to volunteer firefighters’ relief associations helps dedicated first responders save lives and protect our communities,” Auditor General Eugene DePasquale said on Tuesday. “The state funding I am announcing today will help provide life-saving equipment, critical training, and insurance for tens of thousands of volunteer firefighters all across the state.”

A total 2,518 municipalities received $59.99 million for distribution to volunteer firefighters’ relief associations, according to a statement.

Here’s the municipal breakdown for funds coming to Warren County: Bear Lake Borough, $591.93; Brokenstraw Township, $8,504.57; Cherry Grove Township, $1,193.90; Clarendon Borough, $1,596.66; Columbus Township, $8,790.95; Conewango Township, $18,519.87; Deerfield Township, $2,470.05; Eldred Township, $3,182.88; Elk Township, $3,144.51; Farmington Twp., $5,754.06; Freehold Township, $6,174,13; Glade Township, $11,257.92; Limestone Township, $2,306.96; Mead Township, $6,531.43; Pine Grove Township, $13,157.98; Pittsfield Township, $6,216.63; Pleasant Township, $12,089.35; Sheffield Township, $8,760.60; Southwest Township, $2,497.77; Spring Creek Township, $4,237.43; Sugar Grove Borough, $5,836.79; Sugar Grove Township, $4,218.97; Tidioute Borough, $2,606.94; Triumph Township, $1,882.99; Watson Township, $1,560.44 and Youngsville Borough, $7,074.57.

“For the first time since I took office, VFRA funding has increased over the previous year,” DePasquale said. “The additional funding is good news to volunteer firefighters who have had to weather some hits in state aid over the past few years.”

DePasquale repeated his call for the General Assembly to consider giving VFRAs greater flexibility to use the state aid they receive in ways that meet specific local needs. Current state law tightly restricts how the money may be spent.

“I want to make sure that the law governing the use of state aid is keeping up with changes in how fire services are provided,” he said.

Act 118 of 2010 governs the overall operation of volunteer firefighter relief associations, which are legally separate from the fire departments they support. State aid provided under the law is intended to solely benefit volunteer firefighters.