FREDERICK, Md. – Frederick County has been awarded a grant of $8,565,688.64 from the Federal Emergency Management Administration to hire 32 additional uniformed firefighters in the Division of Fire & Rescue Services. The grant is the largest awarded to a Maryland fire service to date this year. The new positions allow Frederick County to make significant progress toward staffing engine and ladder trucks with four-person crews.
“This SAFER grant will allow us to improve staffing to keep our community and our firefighters safe,” Frederick County Executive Jan Gardner said. “Through this grant, we will begin a multi-year process to transition to the nationally recommended crew size. We are extremely grateful for the support of our federal delegation for their work to secure these funds so we can better serve and protect our community.”
The grant is part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) program. When the new positions are filled, the Division of Fire & Rescue Service will have 572 operational career firefighters. Frederick County’s combined fire service also includes approximately 700 volunteer responders across 25 independent companies.
Increasing engine and ladder truck crews is one of the 137 recommendations made by an external review panel that examined the Aug. 11, 2021, house fire in Ijamsville that claimed the life of Battalion Chief Joshua Laird. Another 69 recommendations will be addressed through operational policies and procedures that are currently being updated.
Executive Gardner also announced today that she is committing a portion of Frederick County’s federal American Rescue Plan Act funds to address nearly three dozen additional recommendations of the review panel. The mostly one-time expenses include additional training, improved markings on equipment and apparatus; 55 additional thermal cameras; antidote kits to reverse the effects of smoke inhalation; the reprogramming of radio consoles and installation of a digital repeater system to improve communications; and the creation of a more robust health and safety office within the Division of Fire & Rescue Services.