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Auditor General Jack Wagner Praises Pennsylvania Firefighters Who Attended Spring Workshops for VFRA Training
HARRISBURG (July 7, 2010) – Auditor General Jack Wagner today thanked Pennsylvania volunteer firefighters for helping to keep their communities safe from disaster and for making the 2010 spring 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 suggested that they be continued. A total of 606 individuals attended the workshops, held from Apr. 7, 2010 through May 5, 2010.
“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 Fall 2010; locations will be announced at a later date and listed on the Auditor General website. The workshops occurred on the following dates and at locations convenient to the volunteers attending:
The workshops were instructed by Department of the Auditor General employees. They gave emergency service volunteers the opportunity to receive first-hand instruction on administrative procedures and have questions answered about relief association-related matters. The 2010 edition of the department’s Management Guidelines for Volunteer Firefighters’ Relief Associations manual was distributed at the workshops. This updated guide includes recent policy changes related to the authorized expenditures for VFRAs. The new Management Guidelines is available at www.auditorgen.state.pa.us.
The evaluation results indicate that the educational efforts were appreciated by the volunteer firefighters. One attendee stated: “As managing a relief association becomes more complex, the workshops are more important than ever.” Another noted about the presenters: “Very good. Your instructors know their information and are good at explaining it.” And still another stated: “Your workshop is very helpful to many relief associations. I hope you continue it.”
In 2009, the Department of the Auditor General distributed more than $63.8 million to 1,957 local VFRAs in the state. 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.
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 at Citizens Ambulance Service in Indiana, Pennsylvania, working his way through college at 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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