Maryland’s U.S. senators, Democrats Chris Van Hollen and Ben Cardin, along with Rep. Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md., 5th), announced $110,109.09 in federal funds for volunteer first responder departments in Calvert County.
The funding was awarded through the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Assistance to Firefighters Grants, COVID-19 Supplemental program, which provides funds for the purchase of personal protective equipment and related supplies for first responders during the coronavirus response, according to the July 17 announcement.
The federal program provides grants directly to fire departments, nonaffiliated emergency medical services organizations and state fire training academies to enhance their ability to protect the health and safety of the public, as well as that of first responder personnel.
According to Prince Frederick Volunteer Fire Department Chief Joe Della-Camera, the allocation will benefit all of Calvert’s volunteer fire and rescue responders.
“Prince Frederick Volunteer Fire Department was the lead department on submitting documentation for the grant process,” Della-Camera told Southern Maryland News. “However, all county volunteer departments participated and the money will be distributed based on the individual departments’ submission for reimbursement. The reimbursement covers 90% of the request and the departments cover the remaining 10% through their individual budgets. The money will be utilized to continue our efforts to minimize the impact that COVID-19 has on the volunteer system. The volunteer departments purchase additional PPE and disinfecting supplies among other items to keep our members and community safe.”
According to a FEMA fact sheet, the agency “is providing $100 million in supplemental fiscal year 2020 funding for PPE and related supplies to the fire service community to prevent, prepare for and respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.”
In explaining its grant request evaluation criteria, FEMA officials explained a “development panel, composed of fire service professionals representing the major fire service organizations” reviewed each application “through a multi-phase process.” The applications were electronically pre-scored and then “scored competitively by members of a peer review panel.” The applications were reviewed for “completeness, adherence to programmatic guidelines, technical feasibility and anticipated effectiveness of the proposed project.”
“This grant would not have been successful without the collaborative efforts of the volunteer department leaders and especially Barbara Warner, grant writer of the Calvert County Government’s Department of Public Safety and Rich McKee, grant coordinator of the Prince Frederick Volunteer Fire Department,” Della-Camera stated.
“I’m pleased that our fire departments will receive this critical funding,” Hoyer stated in a joint press release. “Our firefighters put their lives on the line each day to protect families in our communities, and we must ensure they have the resources they need to do their jobs safely and effectively, especially during a pandemic.”
“We will continue fighting for federal dollars to support Maryland’s first responders in the battle against the COVID-19 pandemic,” Van Hollen added.
“Equipping our first responders with the protection and the tools they need to do their job and keep our communities safe is essential always, but particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic,” Cardin stated.