October 04, 2007



WASHINGTON, D.C. - Senators Benjamin L. Cardin and Barbara A. Mikulski (both D-Md.) today announced two Western Maryland fire departments have been awarded a total of $236,204 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.

"First responders are our true heroes - protecting our homes, our businesses and our communities.  I'm grateful for the sacrifices they make every day," said Senator Mikulski.  "The federal government has a responsibility to protect our protectors, providing them with the tools they need to do their job safer and smarter.  That's why I will continue to fight to provide the federal support they need to get the equipment, training and resources they deserve."

"Firefighter grants represent a major effort by the Federal government to ensure that our nation's first responders have the equipment and training they need to do the job," said Senator Cardin.  "Our firefighters are on the frontlines every day, and it is critical that they have the resources to deal with any emergency or life-threatening situation they may have to confront."

The Bittinger Volunteer Fire Department in Garrett County will use its $31,954 to purchase emergency extrication tools, such as Jaws of Life. This is the second award for the department. In 2004, it was awarded $69,378 to purchase new turn out gear, pagers, Self Contained Breathing Apparatus (SBCA) units and hoses. For more information, call Chief Bib Yaste at 301-387-4911.

The Williamsport Volunteer Fire Department in Washington County will use its $204,250 to purchase a mini-pumper, which will allow for water suppression access to brush and wild land areas of their first due response area. The department will use the new vehicle to replace a 1978 dodge brush truck. This is the third award for the department. In 2003, it was awarded $94,860 to purchase turn out gear, pagers and air bottles. In 2004, it received $135,990 to purchase new oxygen tanks and hoses, and install a diesel exhaust removal system. For more information, call Chief William Ball at 301-223-9500.

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 approximately $50 million through the AFGP.