April 10, 2008

CARDIN, MIKULSKI, VAN HOLLEN ANNOUNCE FEDERAL FUNDING FOR MONTGOMERY COUNTY FIREFIGHTERS

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Senators Benjamin L. Cardin and Barbara A. Mikulski (both D-Md.), and Congressman Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) today announced the Montgomery County Volunteer Fire and Rescue Association has been awarded $253,072 in federal funding through the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program (AFGP).  Senator Mikulski teamed up with Senator Kit Bond (R-Mo.) to create the AFGP in 2000.  As a member of the Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee which funds the AFGP, Senator Mikulski fights every year to increase funding.  Senator Cardin is a member of the Budget Committee, which each year sets priorities for funding to federal agencies, including the Department of Homeland Security.  As a member of the Ways and Means Committee, Congressman Van Hollen works to secure federal investments to support local projects like this one to provide first responders with the equipment they need to do their jobs safely.

"I know how important this funding is to Maryland firefighters and residents - 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 are essential to ensure our community heroes have the equipment and training they need to do their jobs safely and efficiently."

"This funding is vital to our community," said Congressman Van Hollen.  "First responders put their lives on the line every day to protect our families and our homes.  We will continue working to ensure that they have the funding and equipment necessary to do their jobs."

The Montgomery County Volunteer Fire and Rescue Association has been awarded $253,072 in a Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) grant to hire a full-time recruiter to work with their 19 volunteer fire and rescue departments in Montgomery County.  The association will also create an advertising campaign to recruit new members to their departments.  This is the first award for the association.  Since 2001, Montgomery County Fire Departments and Emergency Medical Services (EMS) units have been awarded nearly $6.4 million in AFGP funding.  For more information, call Eric Bernard at 301-424-0310.

In his fiscal year 2009 budget proposal, President Bush cut funding for the AFGP program by 60 percent - a $450 million cut - and completely eliminated funding for SAFER grants for the third year in a row.  However, Senate Democrats were able to restore funding to fiscal year 2008 funding - $560 million was restored in fire grant funding and SAFER grants were funded at $190 million. 

Since 2001, Maryland fire departments and fire service organizations have received more than $61 million through the AFGP.