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Auditor General Releases Audits for Volunteer Firefighters’ Relief Associations

from the Office of Auditor General Eugene DePasquale

Dec 19, 2019
PA Auditor General

HARRISBURG – Auditor General Eugene DePasquale announced the release of audit reports for volunteer firefighters’ relief associations (VFRAs) in Allegheny, Berks, Carbon, Delaware, Fayette, Forest, Indiana, Lackawanna, Lancaster, Lehigh, Luzerne, McKean, Montgomery, Northampton, Northumberland, Potter, Somerset, Tioga and Westmoreland counties.

“My oversight of volunteer firefighters’ relief associations helps emergency-services volunteers protect our citizens and communities,” DePasquale said. “I want to make sure state aid is used efficiently and effectively to help purchase life-saving equipment, training and insurance for thousands of first-responders.”

State aid for VFRAs comes from a 2 percent tax on fire insurance policies sold in Pennsylvania by out-of-state companies. This year, 2,518 municipalities received nearly $60 million for distribution to VFRAs to provide training, purchase equipment and insurance, and pay for death benefits for volunteer firefighters.

The Department of the Auditor General distributes the state aid and audits VFRAs. The full audit reports for VFRAs with findings are available online using the links provided below; others are available online at: www.PaAuditor.gov/audit-reports.

Allegheny County

Duquesne Annex VFRA – No findings. 

North Fayette Township VFRA – No findings.  

Berks County

Alsace Manor VFRA

Complied with applicable state laws, contracts, bylaws and administrative procedures as they relate to the receipt of state aid and the expenditure of relief association funds, except for four findings: undocumented expenditures; failure to secure ownership interest in jointly purchased vehicle; failure to maintain a complete and accurate membership roster; and failure to secure ownership interest in jointly purchased equipment.

The VFRA spent $25,000 toward the purchase of a vehicle that was titled solely in the name of the affiliated fire company. The VFRA had $6,936 in undocumented expenses for maintenance, training and a non-affiliated fire company. The VFRA also spent $4,061 toward the purchase of air packs with two affiliated fire companies but did not secure ownership interests in the equipment.

Leesport VFRA – No findings. 

Carbon County

Lehigh and Lausanne Rural VFRA 

Complied with applicable state laws, contracts, bylaws and administrative procedures as they relate to the receipt of state aid and the expenditure of relief association funds, except for two findings: untimely deposit of state aid and noncompliance with prior audit recommendation for inadequate signatory authority for the disbursement of funds.

The VFRA did not deposit $1,208 in state aid from 2018 until September 2019.

Delaware County

Ridley Park VFRA

Complied with applicable state laws, contracts, bylaws and administrative procedures as they relate to the receipt of state aid and the expenditure of relief association funds, except for one finding: failure to maintain a complete and accurate equipment roster.

Fayette County

Isabella VFRA

Complied with applicable state laws, contracts, bylaws and administrative procedures as they relate to the receipt of state aid and the expenditure of relief association funds, except for one finding: undocumented expenditure.

The VFRA was unable to provide sufficient documentation for $1,021 in expenditures for a supplies/shipping vendor.

Forest County

Tionesta Borough VFRA – No findings. 

Indiana County

Glen Campbell VFRA – No findings.  

Lackawanna County

Olyphant VFRA – No findings. 

Lancaster County

Durlach and Mt. Airy VFRA – No findings.  

Lehigh County

Citizen’s Fire Company of Upper Milford Township

Complied with applicable state laws, contracts, bylaws and administrative procedures as they relate to the receipt of state aid and the expenditure of relief association funds, except for one finding: noncompliance with prior audit recommendation for failure to perform annual physical equipment inventories.

North Whitehall Township VFRA 

Complied with applicable state laws, contracts, bylaws and administrative procedures as they relate to the receipt of state aid and the expenditure of relief association funds, except for one finding: noncompliance with prior audit recommendation for undocumented expenditure.

As a result of the audit, the VFRA addressed the finding by providing documentation for $1,002 in expenses.

Luzerne County

Slocum VFRA

Complied with applicable state laws, contracts, bylaws and administrative procedures as they relate to the receipt of state aid and the expenditure of relief association funds, except for one finding: insufficient bond coverage.

The VFRA had $60,074 in cash assets but only $60,000 in bond coverage.

McKean County

Port Allegany VFRA – No findings.

Montgomery County

Edge Hill VFRA – No findings.  

Northampton County

Upper Nazareth VFRA – No findings.

Northumberland County

Coal Township VFRA

Complied with applicable state laws, contracts, bylaws and administrative procedures as they relate to the receipt of state aid and the expenditure of relief association funds, except for four findings: failure to conduct annual physical equipment inventories; relief association cash accounts and certificate of deposit registered under two federal tax identification numbers; noncompliance with prior audit recommendations for insufficient bond coverage; and failure to obtain a Pennsylvania tax exemption number and payment of state sales tax.

The VFRA held $527,795 in checking and money market accounts and a certificate of deposit under two federal tax identification numbers instead of a single number.

Potter County

Shinglehouse VFRA – No findings.  

Somerset County

Listie VFRA – No findings. 

Tioga County

Knoxville-Deerfield VFRA

Complied with applicable state laws, contracts, bylaws and administrative procedures as they relate to the receipt of state aid and the expenditure of relief association funds, except for two findings: noncompliance with prior audit recommendations for insufficient bond coverage and failure to conduct annual physical equipment inventories.

The VFRA had $35,721 in cash assets but only $30,000 in bond coverage.

Westmoreland County

Collinsburg VFRA – No findings. 

Wilpen VFRA – No findings.

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