Friday, July 30, 2004
Homeland Security money available for firefighters
A press release from the Department of Homeland Security last week announced that over $750 million will be available to fire departments throughout the country "to ensure that America's firefighters have the resources they need to protect their communities." In a time of financial drought this relative trickle from the Office of Defense Preparedness (ODP) has been a boon for many fire departments. This year ODP anticipates approximately 8,000 grant awards will be made. Avon, Massachusetts recently received $131,879 for operations and firefighter safety.
Communications grant in 2003
Carlisle received a combined federal grant last year to upgrade radio communications for the police and fire departments to make it possible for emergency vehicles to contact each other directly without the time-consuming step of going through dispatch, according to Deputy Fire Chief Jonathan White. He said this is a significant capability in an emergency situation. The department has also tapped private resources for specific needs, such as the recent replacement of ambulance equipment. The combined grant also contained money for public health. Police Chief David Galvin said the 2003 grant was made available from federal monies through Massachusetts state government.
Grant writing is time-consuming
White stated that the town has always been supportive of the fire department's requests. He said that full-time (as opposed to on-call) fire departments do better with grants because there is clerical staff available to assist in the process of applying for a grant and completing the flow of follow- up paper work. Fire department volunteer hours are already stretched by their inspection responsibilities, such as smoke detector investigations. In addition to the time required by emergency situations, Carlisle's on-call firefighters also spend several hours a week in training and practice activities.
Grants for neighboring towns
Billerica Police received an extra $12,000 for extra traffic enforcement during the Christmas season last year to enforce the "Click it or ticket" and "You Drink and Drive. You Lose" programs. This funding was from the Governor's Highway Safety Bureau. State monies were also given to the Acton Fire Department in 2003 to purchase a communication system; these funds were from the state's fire safety grant. Bedford received a $73,989 federal grant late last year which was contingent upon the town coming up with 10% of the grant money itself, made possible by donations from two local companies
In November 2002, Billerica got a $61,272 award from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) through their Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program. Maynard, Dracut and Harvard were previously awarded money from the same program.
© 2004 The