More Grant Money for Fire, Ambulance Companies

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KINGSTON -- Extra money could be coming for fire departments and ambulance companies all over the state. Governor Corbett held a ceremonial signing of a new grant program in Harrisburg on Wednesday.

The legislation is called the Firefighter Grant Program, and it actually took effect at the end of June. The money from the grant will be distributed to fire and ambulance companies all over the state, and for the first time ever, the grant includes paid departments as well as volunteer departments.

Children stopped by the Kingston Fire Department, where firefighters hope to expand their knowledge of fire safety. Another thing the department wants to expand is their budget.

Erik Derr has been a firefighter in Kingston for 20 years and said new equipment is long overdue.

"With the more modern technology of equipment also comes with a price tag, so any little bit that we can get as far as a grant to help us with the equipment is very much appreciated," said Derr, a Kingston firefighter and EMT.

Luckily for them, Governor Tom Corbett held a ceremonial signing of the Firefighter Grant Program in Harrisburg. The program went into effect in June and will offer $30 million to fire and ambulance companies around the state.

The state's offered the grant for years, but for the first time, it's not just limited to volunteer departments. That makes Kingston fire, a paid department, eligible to apply for the first time.

"It's a very big expense that goes on to the municipality if this grant wasn't available, so it's going to be a big help to the municipal budget," said Kingston Fire Chief Frank Guido.

The money can be used for equipment, building additions and improvements, and training.

Fire departments can apply for up to $15,000. Ambulance companies can apply for as much as $10,000.

The Kingston Fire Department applied for $15,000, which would go toward bunker or turnout gear. It's basically all of the clothing that the firefighters would wear when they get called to the scene of a fire.

"Anything to improve the department is, to me, on the plus side," said Derr.

The deadline to apply for the Firefighter Grant Program is Friday. The Wilkes-Barre Fire Chief said their department will get between $9,500 and $15,000 through the grant. The state plans to distribute the money in early 2013.