United Com­mu­ni­ties VFD awarded fed­eral grant

Record Observer - - News - By AN­GELA PRICE bay­times@kibay­times.com

STEVENSVILLE — United Com­mu­ni­ties Vol­un­teer Fire Depart­ment has been awarded its sec­ond fed­eral grant in a month. On Wed­nes­day, Sept. 7, Se­na­tors Bar­bara A. Mikul­ski and Ben Cardin, both D-Md., an­nounced United Com­mu­ni­ties will re­ceive $199,222 through the U.S. Depart­ment of Home­land Security’s As­sis­tance to Fire­fight­ers Grant pro­gram.

United Com­mu­ni­ties Pres­i­dent Ron Siar­nicki said he was sur­prised but pleased. On Aug. 29, the vol­un­teer fire depart­ment learned it had been awarded $368,250 in fed­eral fund­ing through the U.S. Depart­ment of Home­land Security’s Staffing for Ad­e­quate Fire and Emer­gency Re­sponse pro­gram for re­cruit­ment and re­ten­tion. Siarnikci wrote both grants.

The As­sis­tance to Fire­fight­ers Grant will go to re­place 28 sets of ag­ing Self Con­tained Breath­ing Ap­pa­ra­tus. The new SCBA gear will be fully com­pli­ant with Na­tional Fire Pro­tec­tion As­so­ci­a­tion stan­dards. The grant cov­ers reg­u­la­tors, back plates, spare bot­tles and face pieces, Siar­nicki said.

“It’s one of the pri­mary tools that we use. It’s im­por­tant to keep up with the lat­est equip­ment,” he said.

United Com­mu­ni­ties pro­vides SCBA equip­ment on all its units for ev­ery rid­ing po­si­tion, Siar­nicki added. The gear fits right in the back of the seats so it’s easy for the fire­fight­ers to at­tach it and go.

He wrote the grant to in­clude for enough funds to al­low them to pur­chase a spare set of gear to be used dur­ing train­ing. Cur­rently, when some­one is in train­ing, they have to take gear from one of the trucks, which leaves that unit short when re­spond­ing to a fire.

Siar­nicki said they expect to re­ceive the money some­time in Oc­to­ber, and a new round of grant fund­ing will be open­ing up again in a cou­ple months.

The old units, which were also pur­chased with fed­eral funds, will be sur­plused once the re­place­ments ar­rive, Siar­nicki said. They may go to de­part­ments that don’t cur­rently have breath­ing ap­pa­ra­tus or to those with older, more out­dated equip­ment.

“You need to be able to breathe and see to fight a fire, and this grant will en­able the pur­chase of self-con­tained breath­ing ap­pa­ra­tuses, face shields and air fil­ters that will keep fire­fight­ers on Kent Is­land safe in emer­gency sit­u­a­tions,” said Cardin. “I am proud to fight for the fed­eral in­vest­ments that helps make sure that the brave men and women safe­guard­ing our families have the tools they need to pro­tect our com­mu­ni­ties and make it home safely to their own.”

Mikul­ski, who each year cham­pi­ons an in­crease of fed­eral fund­ing for the fire grants pro­gram, said, “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.”

The AFG Pro­gram of the DHS, Fed­eral Emer­gency Man­age­ment Agency is an im­por­tant com­po­nent of the larger, co­or­di­nated ef­fort to strengthen the Na­tion’s over­all level of pre­pared­ness and abil­ity to re­spond to fire and re­lated haz­ards. Since 2001, the AFG has pro­vided ap­prox­i­mately $6.4 bil­lion in grants to first-re­spon­der or­ga­ni­za­tions to ob­tain much-needed emer­gency re­sponse equip­ment, per­sonal pro­tec­tive equip­ment, fire­fight­ing and emer­gency ve­hi­cles, and train­ing. Over the course of 2016, the AFG will award $304.5 mil­lion to first-re­spon­der or­ga­ni­za­tions that need sup­port to im­prove their ca­pa­bil­ity to re­spond to fires and emer­gen­cies of all types.

Since 2001, Queen Anne’s County fire de­part­ments and emer­gency med­i­cal ser­vices units have re­ceived $3 mil­lion dol­lars from the AFG. Statewide, Mary­land has re­ceived $196 mil­lion in the same pe­riod.

RON SIAR­NICKI

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