|ABOUT THE DEPARTMENT | NEWS | AUDITOR GENERAL HOTLINE | CONTACT | JOIN | FAQS|
Auditor General Jack Wagner Announces Policy Changes To List of Authorized Expenditures for Local VFRAs
Auditor General wants to keep safety a priority for community volunteers
HARRISBURG, March 9, 2010 – Auditor General Jack Wagner today announced policy changes that will expand the equipment and services that local volunteer fire departments may legally purchase with Volunteer Firefighters’ Relief Association funds.
Under the revised policy, local VFRAs may purchase such previously unauthorized items as a backpack blower, eight-point or round fire police hats, Pro Board and IFSAC registration fees for firefighter certification, fire detection/sprinkler systems for fire stations, non-slip flooring in fire stations, smoke detectors for public distribution, and criminal background checks and drug and alcohol testing for proposed or current members.
"Volunteer firefighters are on the front line of community safety, and it is vital to Pennsylvania homeowners and businesses that these brave men and women are given the equipment and training they need,” Wagner said in explaining the changes to the policy, which dates back decades.
Wagner said that his administration’s legal review of Act 84 of 1968 as amended, which governs operations of VFRAs by setting legal and monetary standards that must be followed, resulted in updated and expanded guidelines. The Department of Community and Economic Development, which has ultimate responsibility for establishing policy based on Act 84, agreed with and approved the changes.
"Policy determinations should not be based on cost, as we do not gauge all items based on the dollar amount of the item. Instead decisions should be based on the safety and welfare of volunteer firefighters,” Wagner said. “All items that are now approved fall within Act 84.”
Approval of these now authorized expenditures would be made at the discretion of the VFRA, requiring approval at a VFRA meeting. The VFRA membership is in the best position to determine if such expenditures would benefit the association and its volunteer members and should be given the ability to make that determination by changing the VFRA’s current policy on the purchase of the items.
An in-depth look at these policy changes as well as recent updates to the new 2010 edition of the Management Guidelines manual for Volunteer Firefighters’ Relief Associations will be distributed at the workshops this spring. The manual can also be found on the Auditor General’s website at www.auditorgen.state.pa.us. The workshops are instructed by Department of the Auditor General employees. They give emergency service volunteers the opportunity to receive first-hand instruction on administrative procedures and have their questions answered about relief association-related matters.
The schedule for the workshops is the following:
The Department of the Auditor General distributed on behalf of the commonwealth more than $63.8 million to 1,957 local VFRAs in 2009. The funds are primarily used to provide financial protection to volunteer emergency service personnel against any disability that might occur during participation in the fire service, as well as to purchase various types of fire equipment and to pay expenses to train volunteers. The Department of the Auditor General has the responsibility to audit volunteer firefighters’ relief associations to make sure that VFRA funds are properly spent.
"I understand first-hand and have a deep respect for what volunteers do for our communities across the Commonwealth,” Wagner said. Wagner’s strong support for fire departments and fire-related safety issues date back to his collegiate days at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, where he worked as an emergency medical technician with Citizens Ambulance Service.
Auditor General Jack Wagner is responsible for ensuring that all state money is spent legally and properly. He is the commonwealth’s elected independent fiscal watchdog, conducting financial audits, performance audits, and special investigations. The Department of the Auditor General conducts more than 5,500 audits per year. To learn more about the Department of the Auditor General, taxpayers are encouraged to visit the department’s website at www.auditorgen.state.pa.us.
Home | About | News | Hotline | Contact | Join | FAQ