WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senators Chris Van Hollen and Ben Cardin and Congressmen Jamie Raskin and David Trone (all D-Md.) announced $14,760,223.60 in federal funding for Washington, Frederick, and Garrett County firefighters through the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) grant program.
Awards were allocated as follows:
- $8,080,776 to the Washington County Board of Commissioners to hire 33 full-time firefighters
- $5,581,395.60 to Frederick County to hire 22 full-time firefighters
- $1,098,052 to support recruitment & retention activities for Garrett County’s 11 volunteer fire departments
“SAFER funding helps fire departments across Maryland better serve our residents and communities by ensuring they have the staff they need,” said the lawmakers. “Right now our firefighters are working double duty – continuing their everyday life-saving missions while also serving on the front lines of the fight against the coronavirus crisis. We will keep working together to provide the resources they need and to support fire departments in Washington, Frederick, and Garrett Counties, as well as throughout Maryland.”
Members of the Maryland congressional delegation, including Senators Van Hollen and Cardin and Congressmen Jamie Raskin and David Trone, fought successfully to waive FY19 SAFER requirements, lessening financial burdens on local governments at a time when they face unprecedented revenue shortfalls due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Although our County remains strong in its dedicated volunteer workforce, we recognize the demand that today’s society places on them. Today’s family, work and social environments have created challenges with balancing the needs of emergency responses, fundraising and administrative duties that are difficult for volunteers. The addition of 33 career firefighters under this Grant represents one of the many steps the Commissioners have taken throughout the years to augment the volunteers efforts,” said Jeffrey A. Cline, President of the Washington County Board of County Commissioners. “The notification of award for the SAFER Grant comes at a critical time, whereas County budgets are extremely tight and challenges to our budgets are many. The funding included in the SAFER Grant will give our County budget a much needed boost, as we continue to deal with the effects of the COVID19 Pandemic.”
“The SAFER grant is absolutely fantastic news for Frederick County. This grant will allow us to fully staff the new Northgate Fire Station in the City of Frederick and expand day-time only staffing to 24/7 coverage in Thurmont. It’s all about taking care of people and making sure we can respond quickly and effectively to calls for assistance. A big shout out to our federal delegation for their hard work to secure these funds so we can better serve and protect our community,” said Frederick County Executive Jan H. Gardner.
“The purpose of our SAFER Grant is to provide the 11 volunteer fire departments, in Garrett County, with staffing, training and deployment capabilities to respond to emergencies and ensure that our local communities, citizens and visitors to Garrett County have adequate protection from fire, fire-related hazards and other emergencies,” said Terry Spear, Fire Chief and Recruitment and Retention Coordinator of the Friendsville Volunteer Fire and Rescue Department, which applied for these funds to benefit the 11 volunteer departments in Garrett County.
The SAFER grant program enhances the ability of fire departments around the country to attain and maintain 24-hour staffing by providing grants directly to fire departments for marketing activities, recruiter hiring, higher education tuition reimbursement, training and professional development and company incentive programs.