The Washington County Board of County Commissioners announced the Division of Emergency Services, in collaboration with Potomac Valley Volunteer Fire Company, was awarded a “Regional” Assistance for Firefighters Grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency for $1.9 million.
The funds are to be used by various volunteer fire and EMS departments, the Division of Emergency Services, and the Washington County Volunteer Fire and Rescue Association to purchase portable radios.
The current radios used by fire and EMS responders in Washington County have exceeded their manufacturers stated service life and parts are becoming difficult to find for repairs, said Washington County Division of Emergency Services Director R. David Hays.
“The new radios will be designed to with stand the rigors of structural firefighting,” Hays said.
They’ll also provide improved technologies such as dual band frequencies, GPS, Over the Air Programming capabilities, WIFI, and expanded frequency encryption capability.
Potomac Valley Volunteer Fire Company agreed to serve as the regional host for the grant application and will be accepting the grant.
The AFG Grant Award to Washington County will total $1,927,818.18 and brings direct capital purchase dollars to 19 volunteer fire and EMS departments, including Hancock Rescue Squad and Hancock Fire Company, as well as Hagerstown Fire Department, Washington County Division of Emergency Services, and Washington County Volunteer Fire and Rescue Association.
Washington County fire and rescue departments included are Hancock Fire Company, Hancock Rescue Squad, Leitersburg Volunteer Fire Company, Williamsport Volunteer Fire and EMS, Sharpsburg Volunteer Fire Company, Community Volunteer Fire Company of District 12, Clear Spring Ambulance Club, Long-meadow Volunteer Fire Company, First Hose Company of Boonsboro, Smithsburg Community Volunteer Fire Company, Potomac Valley Volunteer Fire Company, Funkstown Volunteer Fire Company, Clear Spring Volunteer Fire Company, Boonsboro Ambulance and Rescue Service, Hagerstown Fire Department, Maugansville Goodwill Volunteer Fire Company, Sharpsburg Area
Emergency Medical Services, Volunteer Fire Company of Halfway, Smithsburg Emergency Medical Services, Mt. Aetna Volunteer Fire Company, Washington County Volunteer Fire and Rescue Association, and Washington County Division of Emergency Services.
Hancock Fire Chief Robert Hoopengardner said it isn’ t known exactly how many radios each company would be getting, however each company would be getting new portable radios for their units.
Those radios won’ t be coming right away, the chief added, as there is a study going on to see what radio would benefit the fire companies best.
“The new radios will give us the ability to talk directly to counties that we were not able to before,” Hoopengardner said.
Chief Stephen Barnhart of Hancock Rescue Squad said they would be getting 12 radios but not sure what kind of radios.
That decision, he said, would come at the end of the county’s study.
Each person with Hancock Rescue Squad would be getting their own radio and with the company getting 12, it saves a lot of money for Company 59.
Barnhart said the grant money is a big step for Hancock Rescue Squad as each radio costs $6,000 to $7,000 each.
He added the radios the company has now are old and outdated.
There is a 10% match requirement for this grant and the Washington County Board of County Commissioners had previously budgeted funds to cover that portion of the grant.
The grant will also significantly aid the county’ s and volunteer fire and EMS departments’ budgets.
Washington County Com- missioner Board of Commissioners President Jeff Cline said the commissioners are appreciative to Potomac Valley Volunteer Fire Company for their efforts to assist the county in obtaining the grant.
“The grant will help in providing critical equipment needed for firefighters across the county,” Cline said. “With the recent award of the AFG grant, our fire and EMS responders are being set up for success over the next several years to serve the residents of Washington County.”