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Fire department gets grant

March 10, 2005|by BRIAN SHAPPELL

The Hagerstown Fire Department will receive nearly $90,000 in grant money to help its campaign to reduce fires in the city.

U.S. Sens. Barbara Mikulski and Paul Sarbanes, both D-Md., announced Wednesday that the department was to be awarded $89,100 through the Department of Homeland Security's Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program.

Fire department Public Educator Mike Weller said the department sought the money for a three-tiered fire prevention program in the city. The program includes aggressively educating tenants and landlords of Hagerstown rental properties of the city's top fire causes, an engineering initiative to provide improved smoke alarms and equipment to landlords and rewarding landlords who hold tenants to strict fire-safety guidelines through lease and other agreements, he said.

Weller said the city program was started more than a year ago after the fire department received $15,000 in grant money. He said much more money was needed to effectively implement the program.

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"Without this money, this program could not come to fruition," Weller said of the anticipated grant. "I can assure you, that if all we do in Hagerstown is to just continue to tell people what they should do, it will not be that effective."

In 2004, more than 20,000 departments nationwide sought funding totaling more than $2.6 billion through the department's Assistance to Firefighters grant program.

Since 2001, more than a dozen Washington County fire departments have received more than $2 million through the federal program, according to Mikulski's office.

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