PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Allegheny County has approved how to spend almost $100 million from American Rescue Plan.
For volunteer fire departments, money can move quickly. A truck costs more than $700,000, hoses can be a couple hundred each, and the gear inside can quickly add up to more than $50,000.READ MORE: Pittsburgh Mayoral Candidates Ed Gainey, Tony Moreno Take Debate Stage On KDKA
“Without that money, we struggle to survive,” Sharpsburg Volunteer Fire Department Assistant Chief Mike Daniher said. “The last year and a half to two years have been very difficult.”
Last year took a toll on many departments because fundraisers were canceled or had to be reduced in size. Equipping a firefighter also costs about $15,000.
“It’s very important. Everything is extremely expensive,” Daniher said.
According to the county, each fire department will receive $25,000. Daniher plans for the department to use the money for a new hose.
His department responds to 300 calls a year, and Daniher feels the investments in the new public safety radios will help protect everyone in the county.
“Allegheny County Emergency Services, we rely on to take care of larger events that we are not able to handle on our own or with our mutual aid partners,” Daniher said.READ MORE: 6 Tornadoes Tear Through Western Pennsylvania
“When you have a public safety emergency, communication is critical. And to have a lack of communication is something we didn’t want to have in this region,” Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald said.
“Everyone is having funding challenges. Even not in pandemic times, there’s a lot of challenges in EMS,” Shaler Hampton EMS Chief Eric Schmidt said.
Schmidt plans for his department’s check to go toward equipment and payroll.
“It’s tough times. Recruitment and retention is a problem in EMS for all agencies,” he said.
Schmidt’s department responds to 5,000 calls a year and EMS crews are dwindling. The pandemic has taken a toll on the revenue.
“We watch our dimes and nickels very closely. And when we get that kind of opportunity, we’re thankful for it,” Schmidt said.MORE NEWS: Pittsburgh Weather: Saturday Showers
The hope is to get this money to the almost 200 fire and EMS departments as soon as possible.