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New Investments for Keystone Volunteer Fire Companies Fighting Wildfires
Pennsylvania Ag Connection - 07/31/2020

In recognition of the service and sacrifice of volunteer firefighters throughout Pennsylvania, the Wolf Administration announced $591,975 in new funding to help rural communities guard against the threat of wildfires in the state's forests and other undeveloped areas.

"Weather can be friend or foe in our wildfire prevention and suppression efforts, but DCNR has no stronger ally -- especially during these most difficult times of the pandemic -- than the men and women of the volunteer fire companies serving rural areas and communities where forest and brush fires are common," said Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn. "These funds will benefit 109 volunteer fire companies throughout the state.

"To appreciate the value of well-equipped and highly trained wildfire fighters, one only has to look outside Pennsylvania to the horrific fires that sometimes plague other states."

Fire Commissioner Bruce Trego praised volunteer fire companies' service to communities close to home, as well as those members who often join Bureau of Forestry crews battling wildfires far beyond Pennsylvania's borders.

"The dangers associated with wildfires continue to pose a growing threat to our state's forests and rural communities," Trego said. "Grant programs like these are vital tools for state government to ensure volunteer firefighters get the equipment and the training they need to perform their jobs as professionally and safely as possible."

Both Trego and Dunn noted the readiness of volunteer fire companies is demonstrated every spring and summer when they answer assistance calls coming from other states, while also responding regularly to local woodland and brush fires. They noted the wildfire grants help enable smaller companies to concentrate more on public safety and training while easing their fiscal constraints.

In 2019, more than $617,800 was awarded to 133 volunteer fire companies. The grant program, offered through DCNR and paid through federal grants from the U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service, has awarded more than $14.5 million since it began in 1982.

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