January 24, 2008

CARDIN, MIKULSKI ANNOUNCE FEDERAL FUNDING FOR EASTERN SHORE FIREFIGHTERS

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Senators Benjamin L. Cardin and Barbara A. Mikulski (both D-Md.) today announced two Eastern Shore fire departments have been awarded a total of $87,189 in federal funding through the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program (AFGP).  Senator Mikulski is on the Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee that funds the AFGP and fights each year to increase its federal funding.  Senator Cardin is on the Budget Committee.

"I know how important this funding is to Maryland communities - often it's the difference between life and death.  First responders protect our homes and communities, and the federal government has a responsibility to protect them by providing them with the tools they need to do their jobs safer and smarter," said Senator Mikulski.  "Every day when our first responders report for duty, they don't know what they will face.  That's why I fight every year for the equipment, training, and staffing our protectors and communities deserve."

"First responders have always been on the front lines, keeping our families and our neighborhoods safe from harm.  I thank these brave men and women for their continuing service and sense of duty to our community," said Senator Cardin.  "I am proud to support federal investment through local grants like this, which is essential to ensure our community heroes have the equipment and training they need to do their jobs safely and efficiently."

The Linkwood-Salem Volunteer Fire Company in Dorchester County will use its $57,930 to purchase a new Cascade Air Compressor for refilling oxygen tanks.  This is the second award for the department.  In 2005, it was awarded $88,300 to purchase new turn out gear and Self Contained Breathing Apparatus (SCBA) units.  Since 2001, Dorchester County fire and Emergency Medical Services (EMS) departments have been awarded more than $1.2 million in AFGP funds.  For more information, call Barbara Johnson at 410-901-1425.

The Powellville Volunteer Fire Company in Wicomico County, will use its $29,259 to install a diesel exhaust system and a fire alarm system for the station.  This is the second award for the department.  In 2006, it was awarded $33,250 to purchase a new air compressor for refilling portable oxygen tanks.  Since 2001, Wicomico County fire and Emergency Medical Services (EMS) departments have been awarded $908,765 in AFGP funds.  For more information, call Charles Ward at 410-835-8181.

In his 2008 budget, President Bush only requested $287 million for the AFGP, down from $547 million last year.  The Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee increased funding to $560 million in the omnibus spending package that the President signed into law in December.  It also includes $190 million, an increase of $75 million, for Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) grants, also under the AFGP.  President Bush's budget eliminated funding for SAFER grants for the second year in a row.

AFGP grants fund firefighting equipment, personal protection equipment, training, firefighting vehicles, firefighter/first responder safety projects, and staffing recruitment and retention.  Since 2001, Maryland fire departments and fire service organizations have received more than $56 million through the AFGP.