Fire companies awarded $184,056

September 02, 2004|by PEPPER BALLARD

Sharpsburg Volunteer Fire Co. Inc. and Leitersburg Volunteer Fire Co. Inc. were awarded a combined $184,056 in federal funding to buy new gear and equipment through the Department of Homeland Security's Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program.

Sharpsburg will spend the $112,500 it was awarded to buy a Quick Attack Mini-Pumper Truck. The truck will have a water capacity of 250 gallons and will have a 500 gallon-per-minute pump, said Chief Matthew Ryan.

The truck, which is slightly bigger than a pickup truck, will replace an older truck. It will enable firefighters to more quickly respond to structure fires and brush fires, Ryan said. He said the truck will allow firefighters "to get into more rural subdivisions because of limited water supply and limited access."


"We're elated to get the grant," said Ryan, who said he expects to get the truck this winter.

Leitersburg will spend its $71,556 federal grant to buy 20 new sets of firefighting clothing gear, including helmets, boots, pants and coats, said Chief Kirk Mongan.

The company also will upgrade its self-contained breathing apparatus units (SCBA), which will be equipped with the Buddy Breathing system. The system is a split in the connection of the SCBA that allows two firefighters to breathe using one tank of oxygen, Mongan said.

The fire department also will buy 12 spare air bottles, which contain the air for the SCBA, he said.

"Seventy thousand dollars is a fair amount of money for a small company like ours," Mongan said. "That's almost what we operate off of in a year."

He said firefighting gear costs approximately $2,000 a set and the bottles cost about $900 apiece. Both types of equipment were wearing out and needed to be replaced, he said.

So far this year, the Assistance to Firefighter Grant Program has awarded 22 Maryland fire departments a total of $2.3 million, according to a prepared release from U.S. Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Md. Last year, $8.1 million was awarded through the program to one in three Maryland fire departments that applied for funding, according to the release.

The Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program is a competitive program that awards one-year grants directly to local fire departments across the country. Fire departments can apply for federal assistance for training and equipment, fire education and awareness programs or for firefighting vehicles, the release says.

This year, about 20,400 departments nationwide made funding requests totaling more than $2.6 billion. Grants for this funding cycle will be awarded weekly through September 2005, according to the release.

The Herald-Mail Articles