HARRISBURG, Pa. (KDKA) — Auditor General Eugene DePasquale called for increased help for volunteer firefighters.
The auditor general wants to change to state law, giving the volunteers more flexibility to use the state aid to protect their communities, a release said Thursday.
“Some relief associations have met their operational funding needs and have accumulated significant reserves that they may be unable to spend because of the restrictions contained in state law,” DePasquale said in a release. “At the same time, relief associations statewide are having difficulty recruiting new volunteers and struggling to provide support to their affiliated fire departments.”
The release said volunteer firefighters’ relief associations receive state aid from a 2 percent state tax on fire insurance premiums that are bought by PA residents from out-of-state casualty insurance companies.
In 2018, 2,518 municipalities received $55.1 million for distribution to volunteer firefighters’ relief associations to provide training, purchase equipment and insurance, and pay for death benefits for volunteer firefighters, the release said.
Fifty-nine volunteer firefighters’ relief associations had a fund balance above $1 million.
“When we have an emergency, we count on firefighters to come to our aid,” DePasquale said in a release. “But the way fire companies operate is changing and the brave men and women willing to risk their lives to protect us need our help.”