WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Ben Cardin and Barbara A. Mikulski (both D-Md.) today announced that the West Lanham Hills Volunteer Fire Department will receive $910,000 in federal funding through the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Staffing for Adequate Fire & Emergency Response (SAFER) program to hire four career firefighters.
“Our first responders provide the first line of defense for our citizens and these federal funds are an important investment in keeping Maryland families and businesses safe if and when a disaster strikes,” said Senator Cardin. “It’s our job to ensure that Maryland’s first responders have the resources, equipment, training and support they need to do their job safely. After each incident, we want every firefighter to return home to his or her family unharmed and ready to defend our community against whatever comes next.”
“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,” Senator Mikulski said. “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.”
The West Lanham Hills Volunteer Fire Department (WLHVFD) will use the grant funds to hire four additional career firefighters. The career firefighters will staff WLHVFD’s second station Monday through Friday from 7am to 3pm while volunteer fire fighters are working at daytime jobs. The funding enables WLHVFD to restore staffing levels in its second station to meet staffing standard requirements set by the National Fire Protection Association, and respond to the nearly 8,000 emergency calls it receives each year. For more information, please contact President Scott Vasquez at 301-577-0777.
The goal of any SAFER grant is to enhance the ability of grantees to attain and maintain 24-hour staffing. The objective of the program is to award grants directly to volunteer, combination, and career fire departments to help the departments increase the number of frontline firefighters, and to rehire firefighters who were laid off due to the economy.
Since 2001, Maryland fire departments and Emergency Medical Services (EMS) units have received over $134 million in fire grant funding. Prince George’s County has received approximately $24 million in fire grant funding, $8.1 million of which came through the SAFER program.