Firefighters around South Carolina and the nation have some help coming from Congress.
The Fire Grants Reauthorization Act which passed the House this week renews two important programs – the Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program and the Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response program – that provide assistance to firefighters and emergency responders all over the country.
US Representative John Spratt says he voted to provide local firefighters with the tools and resources they need.
“I cosponsored and voted for this bill, because firefighters give so much to our community,” Spratt said. “They sacrifice time away from their families and put their lives at risk every day.”
The bill authorizes $2.2 billion a year for five years in grants and makes it easier for local fire departments to access critical funds by lowering matching requirements and changing time commitments. The grant program provides funds for local fire departments and emergency medical services organizations to purchase crucial equipment.
Grants are provided for one year. Spratt says the staffing program gives grants directly to volunteer, career, and combination fire departments to increase the number of firefighters, with the goal of obtaining 24-hour staffing.
“Because of the recession, many fire departments across the country have been forced to lay off firefighters and forego needed equipment and training,” Spratt said. “Grants such as these protect against such hardships, because firefighters and emergency responders should never have to choose between adequately trained personnel and functioning equipment.”
Spratt says ever since the 9/11 terrorist attacks, fire departments and first responders across the country have been overstretched, taking on more responsibilities to respond to possible terrorist attacks.
In the 5th District of South Carolina alone, fire grants have helped fire departments in or near Van Wyck, Elgin, Sharon, Wallace, Rock Hill, Richburg, Darlington, Chesterfield, Dillon, Heath Springs, Bennettsville, Newberry, Lancaster, Winnsboro, Gaffney, Blacksburg, Great Falls, Lugoff, Kershaw, Chappells, Latta, Society Hill, Ruby, Edgemoor, Clio, Sumter, Camden, Cheraw, Richburg, McColl, Jefferson, Prosperity, Pageland, Bishopville, Whitmire, Little Mountain, Blacksburg, Fort Mill, Smyrna, Blenheim, Pomaria, Chester, Clover, and McBee.