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Auditor General Jack Wagner Praises Pennsylvania Firefighters who Attended Fall Workshops for VFRA Training
HARRISBURG (Dec. 2, 2009) – Auditor General Jack Wagner today thanked Pennsylvania volunteer firefighters for helping to keep their communities safe from disaster and for making the 2009 fall Volunteer Firefighters’ Relief Association workshops successful.
Wagner said the nine free workshops for officers and members of volunteer fire departments were so helpful that 100 percent of questionnaire respondents recommended that the auditor general continue to offer these workshops. A total of 414 individuals attended the seminars, held from Sept. 1, 2009 through Oct. 29, 2009.
“These workshops provided volunteer firefighters with the training, information and resources they needed to meet the guidelines of this important funding source,” Wagner said.
Training sessions will be held again in the spring of 2010, where the 2010 edition of the Management Guidelines Manual will be distributed.
The workshops were instructed by Department of the Auditor General employees who all volunteered to conduct these workshops in addition to performing their normal work responsibilities. The auditors gave emergency service volunteers the opportunity to receive first-hand instruction on administrative procedures to their relief association. They also distributed copies of the Management Guidelines for Volunteer Firefighters’ Relief Associations manual and answered questions about relief association-related issues.
After the workshop had concluded, the auditors solicited feedback from an anonymous questionnaire. The evaluation results indicated that the educational efforts were appreciated by the volunteer firefighters. One attendee stated: “Appreciate updates provided by this course and the information in the manual and handouts.” Another noted about the presenters: “Good program. I have attended 15 consecutive years and find it is always informative.” And still another stated: “One word – Excellent.”
As required by state law, the Department of the Auditor General distributed $63.8 million to 1,957 local VFRAs in 2009. VFRAs are non-profit organizations established to afford financial protection to volunteer firefighters who are injured or killed as a result of their participation in the fire service. VFRAs receive state aid from a 2-percent state tax on fire insurance purchased by Pennsylvania residents from insurance companies incorporated outside of the commonwealth. These funds are used to pay for insurance to protect volunteer firefighters, to purchase fire equipment and to cover volunteer training expenses. VFRAs are distinct legal entities from fire companies.
The Department of the Auditor General is responsible for auditing VFRA funds to make sure they are spent according to state law. The department conducts the workshops to help local firefighters comply with VFRA regulations.
Wagner’s strong support for fire departments and fire-related safety issues dates back to his own experience as an emergency medical technician, working his way through Indiana University of Pennsylvania.
“I understand first-hand and have a deep respect for what volunteers do for our communities across the commonwealth,” Wagner said.
For additional information on future training sessions, call the Bureau of Firefighters’ Relief Audits at (717) 787-1308; or email to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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 approximately 5,000 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.
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