Emergency services funding

ANTHONY R. WALKER

Mill Hall

Volunteer fire companies have a strong history in Pennsylvania.

Over the past 30 years, however, the number of volunteers has dropped dramatically and volunteer fire companies have experienced a range of financial constraints.

Pennsylvania is home to the first volunteer fire company in the U.S., and continues its strong tradition of volunteer service today.

Volunteers serve as the backbone of the fire service in Pennsylvania, as thousands of dedicated volunteers and career fire personnel serve Pennsylvania.

Clinton County emergency responders and dispatchers work as a team to provide care to the victims of emergencies, accidents and disasters every day.

Their skill, training and dedication are unparalleled and their quick action can mean the difference between life and death for area residents.

Many fire companies are struggling to survive as operating costs and capital costs continue to increase.

A new fire engine, for example, can cost $500,000 or more, and self-contained breathing apparatus can cost $5,000 per firefighter. Volunteer fire companies sources of revenues generally include fundraising, gaming, state and federal grants, municipal support, and money from the Volunteer Relief Association.

Fire service members and local leaders need to commit to continued funding to provide the necessary level of fire safety to their constituents. Elected officials that assume local offices must reiterate the value and cost of providing fire protection. This needs to be an ongoing conversation in every jurisdiction and at every level of government. The pattern of struggling fire companies is deeply set and cannot be ignored. It will take a concerted effort to continue to provide quality emergency services to all residents of Clinton County.

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