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Bill Could Positively Affect Volunteer Fire and EMS Companies

A bill that would allow volunteer fire and EMS companies to borrow more money is getting closer to becoming law.

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - A bill that would allow volunteer fire and EMS companies to borrow more money is getting closer to becoming law.

The Pennsylvania Senate and House have already approved House Bill 1706. It now just needs Governor Corbett’s signature to become law.

Legislators in Harrisburg have been pushing to update the Volunteer Loan Assistance Program, a state-run low interest loan system that helps volunteer fire and EMS companies purchase equipment. If the bill passes it would increase maximum loan amounts, something that has not happened since the 1990's.

"It’s about time for an update,” said Mark Trace, Franklin Fire Company Chief. “We've had a lot of cost increases since the 90's so it's about time for an increase in the loan amount."

Under the proposed law, volunteer companies would be able to borrow double the amount of money to buy things like new vehicles, medical equipment, and protective uniforms.

To improve their facilities, companies would be allowed to take out $400,000 dollars in loans. To buy protective equipment, the loan limit would increase to $20,000.

For many volunteer fire companies, these loan increases are not only helpful but also necessary due to rising costs.

The Franklin Fire Company says they are currently working on buying two new vehicles, a ladder truck and a rescue squad truck.

"The volunteer fire companies are faced with reduced revenue through donations and fundraising,” said Trace. “So we're forced to run the same calls with less money. Some people are forced to do things they wouldn’t normally do. You're keeping protective equipment longer that you would like to replace sooner."

Senator Alloway, who was a major supporter of the bill, says he is planning to introduce more legislation next year to help volunteer fire companies stay financially stable and increase recruitment numbers.

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