(WBRE/WYOU) — Pennsylvania has the largest number of volunteer fire companies in the U.S.
More than $55 million in aid was provided to volunteer firefighters relief associations across the state. The money is being used to help buy equipment, pay for training and insurance and pay for death benefits.
But Auditor General DePasquale says the law determining how those funds are used is too rigid. Nearly 60 volunteer fire companies in the state are sitting on reserves of a million dollars or more due to current restrictions.
Harrisburg fire chief Brian Enterline says more flexibility could allow volunteer fire companies to spend the money things they desperately need like outreach for new volunteers.
“We would like to get the legislature on board, to help us help the communities. And really give this money back to where it belongs, and that’s protecting our firefighters and our taxpayers,” Enterline said.
The number of volunteers across Pennsylvania have dwindled from 300,000 in the 1970s to just over 35,000 today.