February 21, 2008

CARDIN, MIKULSKI ANNOUNCE FEDERAL FUNDING FOR MONTGOMERY & PRINCE GEORGE'S COUNTY FIREFIGHTERS

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Senators Benjamin L. Cardin and Barbara A. Mikulski (both D-Md.) today announced three Washington, D.C., area fire organizations have been awarded a total of more than $1.7 million 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 Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service will use its nearly $1.3 million to purchase new interoperable communications equipment.  This is the fourth award for the department.  In 2002, it was awarded $250,816 for operations and safety, and in 2003 was awarded $524,125 to initiate a safety and preparedness program for the department.  In 2006, it was awarded more than $1 million to hire new firefighting personnel.  Since 2001, Montgomery County Fire and Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Departments have received more than $5.8 million in federal assistance through the AFGP.  For more information, call Chief Tom Carr at 240-777-2435.

The Hyattsville Volunteer Fire Department will use its $280,000 to purchase a Heavy Rescue Squad vehicle.  This is the first award for the department under the AFGP.  For more information, call President Matt Davy at 301-927-5770.

The Prince George's County Fire and EMS Department will use its $160,000 to install emergency generators in five stations throughout the county.  This is the fourth award for the department.  In 2003, the department was awarded $146,579 for atmospheric monitoring equipment, and in 2004 it was awarded $20,403 for a Fire Prevention and Safety Grant.  In 2005, it was awarded more than $1 million to install diesel exhaust systems in 37 stations throughout the county.  Since 2001, Prince George's County Fire and EMS Departments have been awarded more than $7.7 million in federal assistance through the AFGP.  For more information, call Chief Lawrence H. Sedgwick at 301-883-5200.

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.