BOWIE – Yet another Staffing for Adequate Fire & Emergency Response (SAFER) grant has been awarded in Prince George’s County and this time the recipients are the local volunteer firefighters in the city of Bowie.
Congressman Steny H. Hoyer announced on Sept. 4 that the Bowie Volunteer Fire Department and Rescue Squad will receive a $1.87 million SAFER grant from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. The grant will help the department better serve the citizens of Bowie and the surrounding areas in Prince George’s County.
“This SAFER grant will help the Bowie Volunteer Fire Department with their efforts to retain and recruit the best applicants for the department,” Hoyer said. “It will also provide firefighters with the necessary training and resources they need.”
SAFER grants enhance the ability to attain and maintain 24-hour staffing. The objective of the grant is to help volunteer, combination and career fire departments increase the number of frontline firefighters and to rehire firefighters who were laid off due to the economy.
The funding will help create a more favorable working environment for volunteer firefighters and assist with enlisting and retaining volunteer firefighters who are trained in the operations of firefighting and emergency response.
Hoyer, a strong supporter of the county’s firefighters and first responders, said he is pleased they will receive this funding to ensure that the fire department is fully staffed to respond to emergencies and save lives in Bowie, as well as neighboring communities.
Mark Brady, Prince George’s County Fire Department spokesperson, said the department is extremely pleased to see that kind of money coming into the county and feels fortunate to acquire federal grants that are available to the fire departments all over the county.
“The region’s fire departments have seen a decrease in the amount of firefighters coming into the department,” Brady said. “Bowie is one of the bigger cities in the state of Maryland and acquiring the grant will help cover a wide array of programs throughout the county.”
Brady said the department has “never had to lay off any firefighters,” so the grant money will be used to “hire even more volunteers.” Brady also said Bowie will continue to search for grant money.
“There’s always an opportunity to receive additional grants and the Bowie department will probably be coming up with different programs to gain incoming members,” Brady said.
David Parker, Jr., president of the Bowie Volunteer Fire Department & Rescue Squad, Inc., said the funding is greatly needed. He said the grant will also have a profound impact on the Bowie firefighters’ readiness and capabilities moving forward.
“This will also help increase our membership, and most importantly, raise the level of emergency service that the citizens deserve,” Parker said. “Our Department would like to acknowledge the efforts of Sergeant Babette Gainor and Assistant Chief Pete Mellits for their tireless efforts leading up to the submission of this grant application.”