WASHINGTON, D.C.—Senator Susan Collins (R-ME), Chairman of the Committee on Governmental Affairs, today urged Maine fire departments to begin filing their applications for grants to be awarded through the Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program. The program, administered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), will award approximately $750 million in grants in fiscal year 2003, up from $360 million in fiscal year 2003. The grants are to assist rural, urban and suburban fire departments with training, equipment and preparation for emergency responses.
“This program is of immeasurable value to fire departments, which are the front-line responders in community and homeland security,” said Collins, a longtime supporter of the grant program. “Securing assistance through the FIRE program is particularly important in Maine, where the rural nature of the state means that many of Maine’s 494 fire departments must cover vast areas, making it difficult for communities to share services.”
As Chairman of the Governmental Affairs Committee, Collins has made strengthening community-based homeland security programs, such as the Fire Act, a top priority. The Senator plans to introduce legislation promoting local homeland security efforts early this spring.
“The people of Maine are fortunate to be served by 12,000 dedicated firefighters — heroic men and women who protect their communities 24 hours a day, seven days a week. I encourage any fire departments that have questions about the grant program or the application process to contact my district offices in Maine,” Collins said Monday.
Fire departments will have until 5 p.m., April 11, 2003, to submit their applications. Once the application period is closed, a peer review process will take place and will run through May. The funds will begin being distributed to successful applicants no later than July 2003. The application process will be primarily Internet based. FEMA will continue to accept paper applications from fire departments without Internet access, but the agency highly recommends that applications be filed electronically.
Grant awards are available in the following categories: Fire Operations and Firefighter Safety, Fire Prevention, Emergency Medical Services, and Firefighting Vehicles Acquisition. The grant application form and additional information is available on the Internet at http://www.usfa.fema.gov.