Volunteer fire companies rarely reimbursed for services, future legislation would ensure compensation

LOWER PAXTON TOWNSHIP, DAUPHIN COUNTY, Pa. - A state lawmaker wants ot make sure volunteer fire companies are compensated for the money spent during emergency calls. This comes as many departments struggle financially, while providing necessary services in their communities.

As Colonial Park Fire Company Assistant Chief Che Kerestes and several other volunteers respond to an emergency call, they know they will likely never get reimbursed for the services they provide.

It's been nearly a year since the company responded to the deadly I-83 accident, when a tractor trailer slammed into several cars, killing three people. Colonial Park Fire Company provided services on scene for almost 10 hours.

“A couple thousand dollars was reported from that incident," said Kerestes. "And to our knowledge, no still no payment from that incident.”

Kerestes says, the company doesn't typically file a claim unless it's an amount upwards of $1,000 because the process is not the easiest.

“It’s usually two to three pages of documentation before we can even submit for reimbursement," said Kerestes.

But soon, the process could be easier. State Senator Thomas Killion, representing parts of Chester and Delaware Counties plans to introduce legislation that would hold a person involved in an emergency liable for the actual and reasonable costs, when services are provided.

“It’s definitely going to be beneficial," said Kerestes. "Because every incident we run we can get some sort of reimbursement whether you’re busy or slow all funds are good funds.”

Kerestes says, Colonial Park Fire Company is fortunate to receive money from Lower Paxton Township's fire tax. He sees this legislation being most beneficial to rural fire companies.

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