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U.S. Department of Homeland Security awards Assistance to Firefighter Grant funds to local departments
WASHINGTON – Today, Congressman Patrick McHenry (R-NC-10) announced $1 Million in a U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) grant to local fire departments in the Tenth Congressional District.
The Skyland Fire Department in Buncombe County is the host department for the grant that comes in the thirty-second round of this year’s Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program (AFG). The AFG Program aims to help firefighters and first responders throughout the country. Local departments applied for the grants, and the program is administered by the Grant Programs Directorate of the Federal Emergency Management Agency in cooperation with the U.S. Fire Administration.
Skyland Fire Chief Dennis Presley indicated that the grant will be used to purchase 800 megahertz radios for all eighteen fire departments located in Buncombe County. In addition to the regional grant, the Skyland Fire Department also received a $297,000 equipment grant to replace 48 of the department’s air packs. “I cannot overstate how important this funding is to the readiness of our department,” stated Chief Presley.
“The technology upgrades that will be made possible by this grant will allow Buncombe County fire departments to vastly improve their communications and will mean better coordination each time a call is run,” said Congressman McHenry. “I particularly commend the Skyland Fire Department for serving as the host agency for this grant.”
Jerry VeHaun, Buncombe County’s Emergency Management Director commented on Congressman McHenry's attentiveness to emergency services, “The Congressman has already been to a county Fire Chiefs Association meeting, toured our public safety training facility and visited some of the departments in the short time that he’s represented Buncombe County.”
A panel of fire experts at DHS awards AFG grants through a competitive review process. Congressman McHenry hosts workshops for 10th District EMS and fire departments to help guide personnel through the process and give them an inside view of what the committee looks for. The workshops are taught by Cherryville Fire Chief Jeff Cash, a nationally recognized expert in his field and former member of DHS’s AFG review committee. Since Congressman McHenry and Chief Cash began the program, 10th District EMS and fire departments have consistently won more grants than departments in most of North Carolina’s other Congressional Districts.
Thus far in the 2012 funding cycle, $2,305,167 has been awarded to 10th District departments.
Grants will continue to be announced in rounds weekly through the coming months.