The U. S. House today passed a bill that will bring millions of dollars in funding to Maine fire departments. H.R. 3791, the Fire Grants Reauthorization Act of 2009, provides funding for local fire departments to purchase equipment and vehicles and help improve the safety and training for firefighters. Congresswoman Chellie Pingree managed the procedural debate for the bill on the floor of the House today.
On the floor of the House, Pingree said “the fire service in this country is being asked to do so much more--from hazmat response and safety planning for schools to EMT duties and homeland security responsibilities. These days, fire departments do much more than just spray water on burning buildings. Or, as a firefighter friend says, much more than just ‘put the wet stuff on the red stuff.’
“These increased responsibilities are why these programs are so vitally important.”
Last year Maine received nearly $6 million in grants from the programs that were reauthorized by the House today. During debate, Pingree told her colleagues about how towns like Bath and Raymond had been able to buy defibrillators to respond to medical emergencies and breathing apparatus to protect firefighters entering burning buildings.
Pingree said the program is particularly valuable to small town fire departments.
“I think some of the real success stories lie in our rural communities—communities often staffed by volunteer fire departments. Just like bigger communities, these small-town fire departments are being asked to do more—but acquiring the equipment they need is often beyond the scope of small-town municipal budgets. Through these programs, small town volunteer fire departments in my state have been able to acquire the turn-out coats, the breathing apparatus and the hazmat suits they need to do the job effectively and safely.”
The bill passed the House this afternoon and now goes on to the Senate.
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