BITTINGER — The Bittinger Volunteer Fire Department was awarded nearly $1 million from the Federal Emergency Management Agency Department of Homeland Security to be used on behalf of every fire department in the county. The Garrett County commissioners have committed to fund the required 10% share in the amount of $90,706.
Bittinger Volunteer Fire Department Chief Justin Orendorf said, “I would like to publicly thank the commissioners for their efforts and commitment to cover the volunteer portion of this grant award. This funding is going to help the fire and EMS community tremendously.”
The award will be used to purchase communications equipment. The Assistance to Firefighters Grant was announced by U.S. Sens. Chris Van Hollen and Ben Cardin and U.S. Rep. David Trone.
Additional grants were awarded to Cresaptown Volunteer Fire Department, $95,238 to purchase a gear washer and install a diesel exhaust extraction system, and $72,762 for Barton Hose Company No. 1 to replace 20-year-old rescue tools and purchase an air cascade system for refilling air cylinders.
In Garrett County, a mobile radio will be placed in nearly every essential ambulance, fire truck, chase vehicle and specialized unit in the county to total about 70 radios. About 10 portable radios will be purchased to be carried by personnel from each of the fire and rescue departments. Without this federal award, each volunteer department would be looking at an out-of-pocket expense of $80,000 to $100,000.
“This award is the result of a multipart effort by the Garrett County Department of Public Safety and each of the local fire departments. We sincerely appreciate the hard work and dedication of these agencies as their efforts will save our taxpayers about $1 million,” Garrett County Commissioner Paul Edwards said.
The tri-band radios are capable of connecting to the new Maryland First Responder Radio System Team statewide radio structure. Also, the technology improvements with the new radios will allow for better response to the neighboring Pennsylvania and West Virginia needs.
“Our current communication technology situation is outdated and we appreciate our elected officials, FEMA and Maryland Emergency Management Agency for working together in helping us meet this critical need,” John Frank, director of Garrett County Emergency Services, said.