FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 29, 2013
Alanna Wellspeak (Mikulski)
Susan Sullam (Cardin)
MIKULSKI, CARDIN ANNOUNCE FEDERAL FUNDING FOR TUITION ASSISTANCE FOR VOLUNTEER FIREFIGHTERS IN PRINCE GEORGE’S COUNTY
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Barbara A. Mikulski and Ben Cardin (both D-Md.) today announced that the Bladensburg Volunteer Fire Department has been awarded $321,000 in federal funding through the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Staffing for Adequate Fire & Emergency Response (SAFER) program to provide tuition assistance and health insurance for volunteer firefighters. 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.
“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 Bladensburg Volunteer Fire Department will use the grant funds to provide tuition assistance and health insurance for volunteer firefighters enrolled in the Paramedic Training Program at Prince George’s Community College. Upon graduation, volunteers will be fully certified as a Paramedic/Firefighter and have their Associates Degree. With tuition assistance, young volunteers are less likely to work part-time, allowing them more time to respond to the approximately 6,000 calls the Bladensburg Volunteer Fire Department receives each year. The funds will also be used to hire a part time volunteer recruiter and coordinator. For more information, please call Donald Wells at 301-864-4415.
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 over $120 million in fire grant funding, approximately $22.6 million of which was awarded to fire departments in Prince George’s County.