February 21, 2008

CARDIN, MIKULSKI ANNOUNCE FEDERAL FUNDING FOR WICOMICO COUNTY FIREFIGHTERS

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Senators Benjamin L. Cardin and Barbara A. Mikulski (both D-Md.) today announced the Parsonsburg Volunteer Fire Department has been awarded $92,649 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 Parsonsburg Volunteer Fire Department in Wicomico County will use its $92,649 to purchase 16 Self Contained Breathing Apparatus (SCBA) units, and to install an air cascade system on their rescue engine.  This is the second award for the department.  In fiscal year 2006, it was awarded $54,862 to purchase 25 sets of turn out gear, and a gear washer and dryer.  Since 2001, Wicomico County Fire & Emergency Medical Services (EMS) units have been awarded more than $1 million in federal assistance through the AFGP.  For more information, call Mark Rickards at 410-742-2408.

In his fiscal year 2009 budget proposal, President Bush cut funding for the AFGP program by 60 percent.  President Bush only proposed to fund the AFGP at $300 million for fiscal year 2009, down from $750 million in fiscal year 2008 - a $450 million cut.  President Bush completely eliminated funding for the third year in a row for Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) grants, which are funded under the AFGP.

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 nearly $59 million through the AFGP.