Volunteer fire departments can apply for competitive grants via a program of the Federal Emergency Management Agency to recruit and retain members, Rep. Nick Rahall, D-W.Va., said Monday.

Money is available under the Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) grant program, administered by FEMA through the Department of Homeland Security, in cooperation with the U.S. Fire Administration.

In this fiscal year, FEMA plans to award some $337,000 to local fire departments to support activities in two categories: hiring of firefighters, and their retention.

“I strongly encourage our fire departments to take advantage of this federal grant opportunity, which can provide scarce resources in helping to recruit and retain firefighters,” said Rahall, ranking member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, which has jurisdiction over FEMA.

“I stand ready to assist them in any way I can. We too seldom recognize that firefighters are pursuing a labor of love, protecting our communities and safeguarding our homes and families.”

Rahall said the point was driven home within the past two weeks when massive power outages threw the region in the dark for several days, putting thousands at risk.

Grants under the program help volunteer units to raise the number of trained, certified and competent firefighters capable of safely responding to emergencies. The funding, at 100 percent, is provided for as many as four years.

Fire departments have until 5 p.m. Aug. 10 to apply for funds.


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