January 17, 2008

CARDIN, MIKULSKI ANNOUNCE FEDERAL FUNDING FORWASHINGTON COUNTY FIREFIGHTERS

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Senators Benjamin L. Cardin and Barbara A. Mikulski (both D-Md.) today announced that three Washington County fire departments have been awarded a total of $607,961 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 Hagerstown Fire Department will use its $314,190 to install diesel exhaust systems in its seven stations and acquire 65 portable radios for interoperable communications.   The diesel exhaust systems will remove harmful carcinogens from vehicle and engine exhaust in the stations.   This is the fifth award for the department, which has received $901,572 since 2001.   In 2003, it was awarded $15,246 to initiate a public safety fire prevention campaign and purchase a public education vehicle.   In 2004, it received two awards: $282,408 to purchase new turn out gear and Self Contained Breathing Apparatus (SCBA) units, and $89,100 in a Fire Prevention and Safety award.   In 2005, it received $200,628 to acquire additional SCBA units and new hoses.   For more information, call Chief Gary Hawbaker at 301-790-2476.  

 

The Fairplay Volunteer Fire Company will use its $156,750 to acquire a mini-pumper engine. For more information, call Mark Kopp at 240-876-1840.   This is the third award for the department.  In 2007, it was awarded $19,000 to purchase a new thermal imaging camera.   In 2006, it received $226,094 to purchase new turn out gear, SCBA units and a RIT kit.

   

The Funkstown Volunteer Fire Company Inc. will use its $137,021 to install a new sprinkler system in the station.   For more information, call Glenn Fuscsick at 301-790-0090.   This is the fourth award for the department.   In 2002, it was awarded $198,000 to purchase a new engine, and in 2003, it received $97,983 to purchase spare air bottles and a thermal imaging camera.   In 2006, it received $226,094 to install a diesel exhaust system and acquire new SCBA units, portable radios and a RIT kit.

 

Since 2001, Washington County fire and Emergency Medical Services (EMS) departments have been awarded more than $6.3 million in AFGP funds.

 

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 nearly $56 million through the AFGP.