State helping local fire and EMS during pandemic

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MAHANOY CITY, SCHUYLKILL COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — The COVID-19 pandemic leaves many organizations that rely on donations wondering where they will get the money.

The state is stepping up to help local fire and EMS make ends meet amid the pandemic. West End Fire and Rescue Chief Danny Markiewicz is taking inventory of life-saving equipment.

“I would say a few hundred dollars to get them tested, and then for, to buy a new air pack, you’re probably talking a few a thousand dollars,” Markiewicz said.

Those air packs get tested annually and have a 15-year shelf life. It’s just one of the many expenses that come with operating the department.

“You can buy a new piece of equipment, but something else breaks down the line, so running a fire station is a big operation. The money will go somewhere it’s needed,” Markiewicz said.

Each year the company receives roughly $15,000 through the Fire Company and Emergency Medical Service Grant Program. The program helps 97 agencies in Schuylkill County. West End relies on it and fundraising to meet their financial needs. Since the pandemic struck, their fundraising has been limited.

“Stuff that we need, we will take care of, but something we want that can wait, it’s not a life or death issue, we will wait down the line,” Markiewicz said.

The state recently signed into law the COVID-19 Crisis Fire and Emergency Medical Services Grant Program. It helps companies just like West End. The one-time grant will match what West End usually receives from the annual payment.

“It enables us to concentrate on other things such as training and responding and it lessens the burden on us,” Markiewicz said.

The funding comes from the Federal Cares Act, allowing companies like West End to care for their community and ease their financial worries.

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