WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Ben Cardin and Barbara A. Mikulski, along with U.S. Congressman Chris Van Hollen (all D-Md.) today announced the Kensington Volunteer Fire Department was awarded $197,126 in federal funding through the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Staffing for Adequate Fire & Emergency Response (SAFER) grant program to recruit and retain volunteer firefighters and emergency medical technicians. As the 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.
“When a natural disaster occurs or we are faced with a terrorist attack, it is our first responders who provide the first line of defense for our citizens,” said Senator Cardin. “This federal funding is an important investment in keeping Maryland families and businesses safe if and when a disaster strikes. It ensures that our first responders have the resources they need to protect us and the equipment and training they need to do their jobs.”
“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,” Chairwoman 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.”
“Every single day, first responders in our community put their lives on the line to protect our families and our homes,” Congressman Van Hollen said. “This vital funding will help give them the resources necessary to recruit and retain volunteer firefighters and emergency medical technicians. I will continue working diligently to they ensure that these brave men and women have the personnel and resources they need to keep our community safe.”
The Kensington Volunteer Fire Department will use the grant funds to continue efforts to recruit and retain volunteer firefighters by purchasing station duty uniforms and making renovations to the sleeping quarters for the volunteer firefighters who live at the station to help keep the department staffed 24 hours a day. The funds will also be used to create a Service Awards program recognizing volunteers who participate in operational activities for the Fire Department. For more information, please contact Chris St. John at 301-929-8000.
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 more than $119 million in fire grant funding, more than $14 million of which has gone to fire departments and EMS units in Montgomery County.