Grant will further fire services info project

Warren County fire departments are a little closer to making plans for a project to connect them with the public they serve a reality.

The Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) has approved an additional $5,000 in Municipal Assistance Program (MAP) grant funds for the Warren County Intergovernmental Cooperative (COG) Fire Services Service Committee’s public information committee.

According to a release on the grant from state Sen. Scott Hutchinson’s office, the award was made to the Warren County Commissioners on behalf of the COG to, “support efforts to recruit fire service providers through increased community awareness.”

The project received $15,000 each of the last two years. This year, an additional $15,000 was requested.

“It was a MAP grant,” Fire Services Committee Chairman Paul Pascuzzi said. “They kind of trickle that out. We had requested money through DCED. We knew we were in line for it, and we were expecting it.”

The funds will go toward the public information project, which is an inter/intranet intended to provide a web presence for the county’s fire departments including a forum to provide information and enhance recruitment efforts and means of improving inter-department and public communication.

“That will go to the internet and intranet project,” Warren County Commissioner John Eggleston noted. “It’s a project that originated with the COG to try to deal with the shrinking numbers of volunteers and to raise awareness with the public. It’s also to improve communication between departments.”

“This is a way to help the departments get information out to the public and let them know what they’re doing,” Pascuzzi said. “It’s going to be user friendly, so it will be easy for them to put up content and get information to the public.”

According to Pascuzzi, over the next week the system will undergo a pilot test and volunteer firefighters will be trained on it in March and April.

“We will be partnering with the Warren County School District and using their labs for training,” Pascuzzi said.

He added the system is slated to launch in May.

“They need to get more volunteers,” Eggleston said of the volunteer departments. “Their members are aging and they haven’t had as much success recruiting. they also hope to improve communication with the communities they serve.”

“If the library doesn’t have enough volunteers for something that’s one thing,” Pascuzzi said. “If the guys putting out a fire don’t – that’s a lot different.”