Press Release

January 31, 2008


Senators Benjamin L. Cardin and
Barbara A. Mikulski (both D-Md.) today announced the Kensington Volunteer Fire Department has been awarded $600,000 in federal funding through the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program (AFGP) to purchase a new fire engine. This is the largest grant in the nation ever awarded to a volunteer fire department for an engine. 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 Kensington Volunteer Fire Department will use its $600,000 to purchase a 95' Aerial Quint Ladder Truck. This is the fifth award for the department. In 2003, it was awarded $227,500 to purchase a new pumper tanker, and in 2004, it received $63,227 to initiate a health and wellness program for its members, as heart attacks remain the number one cause of death for firefighters. In 2005, it was awarded $105,883 to purchase turn out gear for their Emergency Medical Services (EMS) personnel, and in 2006 it received $157,785 to purchase additional turn out gear and mass casualty EMS equipment. Since 2001, Montgomery County fire and EMS departments have been awarded nearly $4.6 million in AFGP funds. For more information, call Chris St. John at 301-929-8000.

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 more than $56.7 million through the AFGP.