Press Release

February 21, 2008

Senators Benjamin L. Cardin and
Barbara A. Mikulski (both D-Md.) today announced the Sharpsburg Area Emergency Medical Service has been awarded $69,260 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 Sharpsburg Area Emergency Medical Service in Washington County will use its $69,260 to install a new sprinkler and fire alarm system in the station.  This is the third award for the service.  In 2005, it was awarded $48,450 to purchase an emergency generator and portable radios.  In 2006, it was awarded $32,786 to purchase Emergency Medical Services (EMS) turn out gear and two stair chairs.  Since 2001, Washington County Fire and EMS Departments have been awarded nearly $6.5 million in federal assistance through the AFGP.  For more information, call Director of Operations Don Weigel at 301-432-5348.

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.