WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Ben Cardin and Barbara A. Mikulski, together with U.S. Representative Chris Van Hollen (all D-Md.), today announced that the Gaithersburg – Washington Grove Volunteer Fire Department (GWGVFD) will receive $278,736 in federal funding through the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Staffing for Adequate Fire & Emergency Response (SAFER) program. As Vice Chairwoman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Senator Mikulski fights each year to increase federal funding for the fire grants program. Senator Cardin is a member of the Finance Committee.
“Volunteer fire fighters across Maryland put their lives on the line daily to safeguard our communities,” said Senator Cardin. “They deserve partners who are as dedicated to the mission as they are. This grant will ensure that the Washington Grove Volunteer Fire Department can recruit and retain the best and brightest and better serve the area.”
“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 and staffing 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.”
“Our first responders put their lives on the line every time they put on their uniform. We owe it to them to make sure they have the resources they need to keep our community safe,” said Congressman Van Hollen. “I know this grant will go a long way toward ensuring Montgomery County attracts and retains the best men and women for the job.”
GWGVFD will use this federal funding to institute a volunteer incentive program and hire a part time recruiter. In addition, the department is building digital signage in front of the station that will feature volunteer recruitment. For more information, please contact Steve Hayes at 301-948-0660.
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. The SAFER program provides approximately $340 million in competitive grants to fire departments and statewide or local volunteer firefighter support groups.
Since 2001, Maryland Fire Departments and Emergency Medical Services (EMS) units have received nearly $162 million in fire grant funding, of which more than $15 million of which has been awarded to fire departments in Montgomery County. The county has hired 40 full time firefighters through the SAFER grant program.
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