WASHINGTON – Prince George’s County has been in desperate need of more first responders. Now, its residents can finally expect enhanced on-the-scene public safety and emergency services. Congressman Steny H. Hoyer, U.S. Senators Barbara A. Mikulski and Ben Cardin, and U.S. Representative Donna F. Edwards announced last week that the Prince George’s County Fire Department […]
WASHINGTON – Prince George’s County has been in desperate need of more first responders. Now, its residents can finally expect enhanced on-the-scene public safety and emergency services.
Congressman Steny H. Hoyer, U.S. Senators Barbara A. Mikulski and Ben Cardin, and U.S. Representative Donna F. Edwards announced last week that the Prince George’s County Fire Department will receive $3,620,808 in federal funding through the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Staffing for Adequate Fire & Emergency Response (SAFER) program. The funding will allow the fire department to hire 24 full-time firefighters for two years, including training and full benefits.
“This grant will help the department hire more personnel at their stations and provide necessary resources and training,” said Hoyer. “As a co-chair of the Congressional Fire Services Caucus, I will continue to work on behalf of these brave men and women firefighters and first responders who put their lives on the line every day to ensure our safety.”
The goal of a SAFER grant is to enhance the ability of grantees attaining and maintaining 24-hour staffing. The objective of the program is to award grants directly to volunteer, combination and career fire departments to help increase the number of frontline firefighters and rehire firefighters who were laid off due to the economy.
The Prince George’s County Fire Department will use the grant funds to hire 24 full-time firefighters to fully compliment 24/7 staffing. These positions will be assigned to the Special Services Units, specifically the ladder trucks.
Mark Brady,Prince George’s County Fire/EMS Department Chief Spokesperson, said the newly hired firefighters will be going to various stations around the county.
“The 24 recruits are coming out of the academy as rookies, so they will be going to any station within the county that has an open position for firefighters,” said Brady. “We will most likely be adding at least one new recruit to every fire station.
“Many of our fire stations are short of staffing and we are currently paying overtime just to fill those empty positions. We will begin the hiring process by announcing the new open firefighting positions and then test candidates for the position. Once we have the people on board then the earliest I think we can have them hired and in the training camp would be in January of 2016.”
The SAFER program provides approximately $340 million in competitive grants to fire departments and statewide or local volunteer firefighter support groups.
Since 2001, Maryland Fire Departments and Emergency Medical Services (EMS) units have received nearly $162 million in grant funding, of which $32 million has been awarded to fire and EMS departments in Prince George’s County.
“I know how important this funding is to Maryland Communities,” said Senator Mikulski. “Every day 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.”
“Adding 24 full-time firefighter positions is welcome news for the residents and all first responders in Prince George’s County,” added Rep. Edwards. “Firefighters are often the first to arrive on scene and we rely on their professionalism and training in our greatest moment of need. These additional firefighters will make a measureable impact in protecting our communities.”
This is the Prince George’s County Fire Department’s third time being awarded a SAFER grant.
“Receiving the grant will certainly help since everyone knows the county is under budgetary constraints and it’s expensive for the county to get 24 new firefighters trained and ready to work,” said Brady. “We are in competition with fire departments all over the country to get funding, but we feel fortunate to receive this grant and are glad have a lot of good politicians in our area that support the fire service.”