On March 30, 2023, Associate Policy Director Dominic Butchko submitted testimony to the House Appropriations Committee in support of HB 1252 – Public Safety – Volunteer Company Assistance Fund – Alterations.
This bill expands the acceptable uses of resources distributed through Volunteer Company Assistance Fund (VCAF) to include emergency medical services and emergency medical equipment. Fire fighting services across Maryland rely on the VCAF, and HB 1252 in effect grants them greater flexibility when utilizing these funds. Counties see this bill as a low cost, commonsense means of improving service and bolstering the State’s fire fighting capacity.
From the MACo Testimony:
The VCAF was created to ensure adequate fire protection and rescue services across Maryland. Since the program’s inception, the duties and challenges of volunteer firefighting have expanded considerably. Nationally, volunteer companies are facing a recruitment and retention crisis. This crisis comes at a time when many companies are being tasked with providing either auxiliary or primary emergency medical services (EMS), a charge these organizations were not intended to carry. While Maryland’s firefighting service is currently strong and many companies have taken these new charges in stride, the road ahead presents a more challenging picture. The flexibility of HB 1252 is simple but also critical in relieving the strain felt by our volunteer fire companies. Furthermore, this flexibility is offered with no additional financial burden on the state.
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