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Grant to fund generator

September 25, 2007|By HEATHER KEELS

SMITHSBURG - Smithsburg Emergency Medical Services has been awarded a $35,530 Homeland Security grant to buy an emergency generator, Maryland's senators announced Monday.

The federal money, awarded through the Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program, will allow the EMS company to purchase and install a generator that can provide up to 10 days of power in the event of a weather-related power outage or natural disaster, Deputy Chief Jon Snyder said.

The EMS company currently has no emergency backup power, leaving responders without essential equipment whenever the power goes out, Snyder said.

"There are so many things we take for granted on a day-to-day basis, all the way from opening our garage doors ... to the computers we use to do reporting for the state," Snyder said. "Everything requires electricity."

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The company's radio systems, ambulance heating systems and medical equipment all require fully charged batteries, he said.

Most new departments are built with generators, but Smithsburg's station is almost 20 years old, Snyder said.

The grant money will cover two 1,000-gallon propane tanks and 1,700 gallons of propane in addition to the 37-kilowatt generator. A 4-foot-by-8-foot concrete pad will be built to house the generator and the propane tanks will be buried underground, Snyder said.

The company plans to issue a request for bids within two weeks and hopes to break ground within 30 days so the generator will be ready in time for winter ice storms, Snyder said.

Like many emergency response services, Smithsburg EMS has seen a decline in volunteers recently and has been forced to spend more of its budget on paid staff, leaving less money for equipment, Snyder said.

"I think there's a genuine need for additional resources in Washington County," he said.

The company applied for the grant earlier this year after attending a seminar on obtaining grants by the Maryland Fire and Rescue Institute, Snyder said. It is the second EMS company in Washington County to receive money from the Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program, Snyder said.

In a press release, the office of Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., said she would continue to fight each year for additional funding for grants to fire and rescue companies.

"The federal government has a responsibility to protect our protectors, providing them with the tools they need to do their job safer and smarter," Mikulski said.

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