HAGERSTOWN, MD (September 16, 2020) – The Washington County Board of County Commissioners
is pleased to announce the Division of Emergency Services
has been awarded a SAFER grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency
in the amount of $8,080,776. This amount is proposed to fund up to 33 firefighters over the next 3 years. As a recipient of the Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response Grants (SAFER) program, the funding will aid in reducing response times and enhancing firefighter and public safety throughout Washington County. When the new positions are filled, the Division of Emergency Services will staff 53 full-time and 25 part-time operational career firefighters.
“On behalf of the entire Board of County Commissioners for Washington County, MD, I extend our sincere gratitude and appreciation for your efforts to assist our County with a SAFER Grant Award,” stated Board of County Commissioners President Jeffrey A. Cline. “Although our County remains strong in its dedicated volunteer workforce, we recognize the demand that today’s society places on them. Today’s family, work and social environments have created challenges with balancing the needs of emergency responses, fundraising and administrative duties that are difficult for volunteers. The addition of 33 career firefighters under this Grant represents one of the many steps the Commissioners have taken throughout the years to augment the volunteers’ efforts.”
Today, Wednesday, September 16, 2020, U.S. Senators Chris Van Hollen and Ben Cardin and Congressmen Jamie Raskin and David Trone announced the SAFER Grant Award to Washington County, MD. The grant award will total $8,080,776 and represents the full cost of entry level firefighter salaries for the entire 3 years of the grant. The cost share of the grant that was originally required from the County for the 3 years of the grant has been waived by FEMA (25% yr. 1, 25% yr. 2 and 65% for yr. 3). This represents an additional cost savings to Washington County in excess of $3 million.
The grant will provide the opportunity to bring much needed firefighter staffing assistance to our dedicated volunteers. The awarding of the SAFER Grant provides an initial funding mechanism that will allow the Board of County Commissioners to fast track the hiring initiative for up to thirty-three (33) firefighters. The firefighters hired under this grant will place three (3) firefighters on duty each day at four (4) strategically located volunteer fire stations throughout Washington County. The firefighters are intended to help augment our volunteer workforce by ensuring that dedicated staffing is available in various regions throughout the County.
“We are extremely excited to begin this new journey as we work closely with the Washington County Volunteer Fire and Rescue Association and its member companies to move this process forward,” stated Washington County Division of Emergency Services Director David R. Hays.
SAFER is a competitive national program through the Department of Homeland Security. It provides funds for hiring, recruiting and retaining front-line and volunteer firefighters to create an overall net increase in the number of trained, certified, and competent firefighting units capably responding to emergencies in their communities.
The notification of award for the SAFER Grant comes at a critical time, whereas County budgets are extremely tight and challenges to our budgets are many. The funding included in the SAFER Grant will give our County budget a much needed boost, as we continue to deal with the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.