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After initial snag, Baltimore County volunteer firefighters will get ARPA money

Fire gear at the Pikesville Volunteer Fire Company. Credit: John Lee
Gear at the Pikesville Volunteer Fire Company. Credit: John Lee

Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski said Tuesday $1 million in American Rescue Plan money will be given to volunteer fire companies in the county.

In November, Olszewski came under fire from the volunteers for not giving them a share of the ARPA money, while using it to give paid county firefighters a bonus.

Olszewski administration officials said at the time that the ARPA money came with strings attached, including that they could not give it to volunteers or to their fire companies.

Erica Palmisano, Olszewski’s press secretary, said since then the ARPA rules have changed and have more clarity.

“It’s been a bit of a moving target,” Palmisano said.

While a bonus for the volunteers is still not allowed, the money can be used by the companies for things like equipment and supplies.

Baltimore County Fire Chief Joanne Rund said the volunteer companies need the money.

“The fundraising was hit really hard this past couple of years for them, and we’ve been striving to work very diligently with them to make sure they have the tools that they can to provide the service to the citizens,” Rund said.

Olszewski said, “The losses are real, and the service is critical.”

The $1 million will be spread out over the county’s 29 companies, which combined have around 1,000 volunteers.

John Lee is a reporter for WYPR covering Baltimore County. @JohnWesleyLee2
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