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Legislation to Help Volunteer Fire Companies Update Their Equipment
December 9, 2013- Don Rooney
HARRISBURG-The state Senate is considering legislation that will expand a program that allows volunteer fire and emergency companies to borrow from the state at a low interest rate. 

The Committee has passed and sent to the full Senate House Bill 1706, which would update the Volunteer Loan and Assistance Program. VLAP provides 2% loans to Volunteer Fire and EMS departments. This legislation increases the maximum loan amounts that volunteer companies can borrow due to the the increased prices of today's emergency equipment. Most maximum loan amounts are doubled under the legislation -- for example, maximum amounts for purchasing emergency apparatus or vehicles is increase from 100 thousand to 200 thousand dollars. Senators Solobay and Schwank say this is needed because the prices for equipment and vehicles has doubled or in some cases tripled over the last few years. Loan amounts are also doubled for companies looking to upgrade their facilities or repair old equipment.

The legislation will also change the amount allowed to newer regional Volunteer Fire/EMS departments. Currently, an individual Fire/EMS department can only carry three (3) VLAP loans at a given point in time. The law would expand that for merged departments to ten (10) loans at one time for a period of ten (10) years from their merger date.

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