Press Release

March 2, 2007

Senators Benjamin L. Cardin and
Barbara A. Mikulski (both D-MD) today announced that two fire departments in Prince George's County have been awarded a total of $179,223 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.”

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 more than $45.7 million through the AFGP.

Berwyn Heights Volunteer Fire Department will use its $90,547 to upgrade their communications equipment. The department will purchase new portable radios to improve communication interoperability with other departments throughout the county. This is the second award for the Berwyn Heights Volunteer Fire Department. In 2004, the department was awarded $47,838 to purchase new rescue tools. For more information, call James Ward at 301-474-5587.

Branchville Volunteer Fire Company & Rescue Squad of College Park, Md., will use its $88,676 to purchase portable radios to enhance communications interoperability throughout the Washington, D.C., metro area. This is the first award for the department under the AFGP. For more information, call Jennifer Chafin at 301-474-1550.

President Bush's proposed fiscal year 2008 budget cuts federal support for the AFGP nearly in half – a $245.7 million cut from last year. In addition, the President's budget eliminates funding for firefighter staffing (SAFER) grants for the second year in a row, despite funding them at $105.8 million in fiscal year 2006.

“The President's budget continues to leave our first responders behind. Helping our firefighters is not a political issue, it is a safety issue. If you are willing to put your life on the line every day, you should never feel short-changed by your government,” said Senator Mikulski. “I will never give up my fight to give first responders the tools they need.”