U.S. Senators Barbara A. Mikulski and Ben Cardin (both D-Md.) today announced that federal grant funding has been awarded to Carroll County first responders for lifesaving equipment and to prepare students today for firefighting jobs tomorrow.
The Carroll County Volunteer Emergency Services Association has been awarded $368,120 through the Department of Homeland Security's (DHS) Staffing for Adequate Fire & Emergency Response (SAFER) program. Funding will be used to prepare high school students for careers as professional and volunteer firefighters. In addition, the Pleasant Valley Community Fire Company has been awarded $103,075 in federal funding through the DHS Assistance for Firefighters Grant (AFG) program in order to purchase five Automatic External Defibrillators and install a diesel exhaust extraction system in the station. As 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.
"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."
"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."
The Carroll County Volunteer Emergency Services Association will use the grant funds to hire a full time volunteer coordinator to oversee its Emergency Services Technician (EST) program. The EST program will work with the Board of Education in Carroll County to target high school students interested in firefighting and EMT careers and provide them with "hands-on" training. After completing the program, the students will have five core FIRE/EMS certifications, preparing them for jobs as professional or volunteer firefighters. For more information, please call Neil Roop at 410-848-8973 ext. 209.
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 grant funds awarded to the Pleasant Valley Community Fire Company will allow for the installation of a diesel exhaust extraction system in the station which will keep firefighters safe and healthy when they are not in the field. It will also purchase five Automatic External Defibrillators (AEDs), enabling firefighters to quickly detect and treat life threatening cardiac emergencies. For more information, contact Forrest Shaw at 410-875-1252.
AFGP grants fund firefighting equipment, personal protection equipment, training, firefighting vehicles, firefighter/first responder safety projects, and staffing recruitment and retention, as well as public fire safety education.
Since 2001, Maryland fire departments and Emergency Medical Services (EMS) units have received over $120 million in fire grant funding, approximately $2.5 million of which was awarded to Fire and EMS departments in Carroll County.