On Aug. 8, two Greene County fire departments received funding, in honor of Smokey Bear’s historic impact on fire prevention. Jefferson Volunteer Fire Company received $4,750 and Rices Landing Volunteer Fire Department received $3,100.

“Smokey has been a friend and ally to firefighters throughout the nation, and an icon to parkgoers young and old,” State Fire Commissioner Bruce Trego said. “Though the increased threat of wildfires is relatively new, Smokey’s message of responsibility and self-awareness has proven to be timeless. Prevention will always be the most effective tool we have at our disposal to fight wildfires.”

The Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn, along with Trego, announced more than 130 wildfire fighting grants totaling nearly $620,000 to assist volunteer fire companies throughout the state.

The new funding was announced at the gathering at Pine Grove Furnace State Park, marking Smokey Bear’s historic impact on forest fire prevention.

“Across the state, a total of $617,809 will benefit volunteers serving rural areas and communities where forest and brush fires are common,” DCNR Sec. Dunn said. “To appreciate the value of well-equipped and highly trained wildfire fighters, one only has to look outside Pennsylvania to the horrific fires that sometimes plague other states.”

Although progress has been made, wildfires remain one of the most critical environmental issues affecting the United States. Many Americans believe that lightning starts most wildfires. In fact, on average nearly nine out of 10 wildfires nationwide today are caused by people.

“Too often in our spring wildfire season, volunteer fire companies are kept jumping from one wildfire to the next,” said Pennsylvania State Forester Ellen Shultzabarger. “They need all the help they can get, and I am delighted to announce DCNR will be again providing funding to 132 companies that need it most.”

Washington County fire departments and their respective funding: Hanover Volunteer Fire Department, $3,390; Lock 4 Volunteer Fire Company, $6,000 and Lone Pine Volunteer Fire Department, $4,840.

Departments in Fayette County and their respective funding: Adah Volunteer Fire Department, $6,515; Ohiopyle Stewart Volunteer Fire Company, $4,090 and Point Marion Volunteer Fire Department, $6,339

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