Legislative Budget and Finance Committee Releases Positive Review of Volunteer Fire Company and Volunteer Ambulance Service Grant Program, Says Barrar

HARRISBURG – A day after the House Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee approved Rep. Stephen E. Barrar’s (R-Chester/Delaware) legislation to reauthorize, increase and expand the Volunteer Fire Company and Volunteer Ambulance Service Grant Program (VFCVASGP), the Legislative Budget and Finance Committee (LBFC) released a positive report of the program, calling for an increase in total funding for the grants.


“I believe this is one of the best administered and truly worthy programs we operate in state government,” said Barrar.  “The LBFC recommended several measures to strengthen the program, but overall the report shows how well the Office of the State Fire Commissioner is managing this grant and how successful it has been at providing financial assistance to volunteer fire and ambulance organizations.”


To hear Barrar’s audio comments about his legislation, visit


The LBFC randomly sampled 20 grant awards and found all to have been appropriately reviewed, evaluated and closed out by the Office of the State Fire Commissioner (OSFC).


In its report, the LBFC listed the following concerns and recommendations regarding the program:


  • Reauthorizing the grant program should take place before February 2012 to ensure the fall application dates are not postponed.
  • The current $25 million total is insufficient to meet the allowable award limits, and the fire commissioner would also like to open the grants to municipal fire organizations.
  • The program does not allow for any administrative costs, but the OSFC currently spends nearly $380,000 to administer the program.
  • The program allows a fire company that have been decertified by its municipality to receive grant funding as long as it has responded to at least one fire emergency during the calendar year.
  • Fire companies have been slow to comply with the requirement to actively participate in the Pennsylvania Fire Information Reporting System (PFIRS), but beginning in the 2011-12 grant year, the OSFC will enforce the requirement to register on the PFIRS and in the 2012-13 grant year, require companies to begin reporting.
  • Moving to electronic final reports would make it easier for grantees and the OSFC to close out grants.


“Many of the concerns and recommendations of the LBFC are addressed in my House Bill 955,” said Barrar.  “I have been working closely with Fire Commissioner Ed Mann, my local fire chiefs, my colleagues across the aisle and other stakeholders to enhance the grant program.  I believe the bill we passed out of committee this week is a solid piece of legislation that will go a long way in assisting Pennsylvania’s fire and ambulance organizations.”


Barrar’s House Bill 955 would extend the VFCVASGP, which is set to expire on June 30, 2012, through the end of June 2016.  It also in future years would increase total available funding from $25 million to $40 million and would open the program to municipal fire departments. Funding for the program does not come from the state’s General Fund, but is distributed from the State Gaming Fund.


More information about Barrar and his legislative priorities is available at SteveBarrar.com or Facebook.com/RepBarrar.  The full LBFC report can be found at http://lbfc.legis.state.pa.us/.

State Representative Steve Barrar
160th District, Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Contact: Nicole Wamsley

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