Members of the Oakland Volunteer Fire Company received news of a grant last week designed to be a motivational tool.
The money is used to provide firefighters with little incentives to join and remain with departments, which, in turn, strengthens the ability to serve the community.
Oakland will get $194,500 spread over four years from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. It will use the money to provide volunteers with Visa gift cards for responding to incidents, supplemental health care and physicals for new members. Money will also be spent to complete a bunkroom and advertise the company’s activities.
“It’s going to reward them for coming out and doing what we do,” said Tom Callihan, the company’s fire administrator. “I know these guys would be doing it anyhow.”
In announcing the grant, U.S. Sen. Bob Casey said, “This money will help provide Johnstown’s volunteer firefighters with the resources they need to ensure their safety and the safety of those they serve.”
Oakland currently has a roster of more than 200 members. But only 20 to 25 actively fight fires.
“We’re hoping to bolster our numbers (with this grant),” Callihan said.
The grant is 100 percent free. Oakland does not need to provide any matching funds.