Federal Grants Buy New Safety Equipment For Volunteer Firefighters

ROSEDALE, Md. (WJZ) — Big federal money is coming into Baltimore County fire departments.

As Mike Schuh reports, the money will protect firefighters and help to attract new ones.

Here’s what you might not know when a volunteer firefighter from Maryland shows up to help you.

“A complete set of turnout gear for a firefighter is about $3,000: the coat $1,500, the pants $1,000, the boots approximately $300 and the helmet $200-$300,” said Steve Barry with Pleasant Valley Volunteer Fire Department.

In small departments, the volunteer buys their own gear. That’s where Senator Barbara Mikulski comes in.

“I helped start the program nationally,” Mikulski said.

It has cost over $140 million so far to buy equipment for the 368 volunteer fire departments in Maryland. On Thursday, she stopped by Rosedale in Baltimore County with two more grants: $2 million for the volunteers and $2 million for Baltimore County. It’s money the county doesn’t have to spend.

“This is to supplement, and be used somewhere else. This will supplement the money Baltimore County was going to use to buy this equipment,” said Chief John Hohman of the Baltimore County Fire Department.

The money will be used to replace more than 370 obsolete and worn out breathing systems.

“You can be able to breathe when you go into a hot zone,” Mikulski said.

The chiefs say the $4 million will keep our firefighters safer and keep them longer.

“It’s huge. It makes it easier for us to bring firefighters in and when they have to pay for their own equipment we sometimes lose people. They can’t afford it, and they leave,” Barry said.

The second half of the grant money can be used by all 368 volunteer fire departments in Maryland to better attract, train and retain firefighters.

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