SALISBURY — The Salisbury Fire Department will have the opportunity to get back to full staff for the first time in four years after receiving a $1 million-plus grant from the federal government.
Senators Barbara Mikulski and Ben Cardin last week announced the department will be the recipient of a grant totaling $1,038,912 through the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) program. The department will use the federal grant funds to hire 12 new firefighters necessary to protect residents and maintain a full staff.
Due to the economic downturn, the department has not been able to maintain a full staff in two of the three fire stations in four years. The goal of any SAFER grant is to enhance the ability of grantees to attain and maintain 24-hour staffing. The intent of the grant for Salisbury is to allow the department to increase the number of frontline firefighters and to re-hire any firefighters who were laid off for economic reasons.
“I know how important this funding is to Maryland communities,” said Mikulski. “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.”
Cardin agreed the grant for the department was necessary to bring the city’s first responder staff up to safe levels and to ease the burden of providing the service on the local governments.
“Now more than ever, we need to make sure that we have first responders in place that are needed to protect our families and communities,” he said. “From fires to natural disasters to possible terrorist threats, communities cannot shoulder this burden alone. It is important that we provide the federal investment needed so communities can hire the first responders that are needed to protect us from harm.”
Since 2001, Maryland fire departments and emergency medical services units have received over $107 million in fire grant funding. Mayor Jim Ireton, Jr. praised Mikulski and Cardin for pushing through the grant for the city’s fire department and its 12 new hires.
“Senator Mikulski’s and Senator Cardin’s commitment to first responders is unparalleled,” he said this week. “Our community is grateful for their representation in Washington and the relationship they have formed with Salisbury.”