HARRISBURG – Legislation sponsored by Sen. Pat Stefano (R-32) that would implement the decision of Pennsylvania voters to allow municipal-owned fire companies to participate in the Fire and Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Loan Program received support from the General Assembly and moves to the governor for his signature.
Senate Bill 739 would ensure that all fire companies – whether volunteer, paid or combination department – are eligible for the low-interest loans.
The bill was also amended to allocate a total of $25 million in federal disaster relief funds that will be distributed under the Emergency Medical Services COVID-19 Recovery Grant Program. EMS companies will be able to receive these funds through the Office of the State Fire Commissioner.
“We are extremely thankful that Pennsylvania EMTs and paramedics provide emergency care every day and night while enduring difficult conditions. Ambulance services struggled to maintain operations even before the COVID-19 Pandemic and Senate Bill 739 will provide much needed help! The Pennsylvania Fire and Emergency Services Institute (PFESI) commends the members of the General Assembly for passing Senate Bill 739 that will provide $25 million in grant funding to ambulance services. We are very appreciative for their efforts,” said Jerry Ozog, executive director of PFESI.
The funding will be distributed on a pro rata basis to EMS companies.
“First responders never stopped working during the pandemic, even in the beginning before we had enough information to make our own determinations about the severity of the virus. Costs to our EMS companies increased and access to medical-grade masks decreased as we dealt with shortages all over the state,” Sen. Stefano said. “It was a challenging time to serve the community.”
Fire and EMS companies have struggled financially for years, which is why the Senate Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee has been working to pass legislation based on the recommendations made by the Senate Resolution 6 Commission. The commission, which was established by Senate Resolution 6 of 2017, was tasked with making recommendations about how to avert a crisis in the delivery of fire and emergency medical services in Pennsylvania.
“As chairman of the Senate Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee, I am focused on supporting our fire and EMS companies so Pennsylvanians have the critical support they need in life-threatening emergencies,” Sen. Stefano said.
CONTACT: Nathan Silcox, 717-787-7175, firstname.lastname@example.org