ROSEDALE, Md. - Maryland firefighters got a big boost from the federal government on Thursday.
U.S. Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Maryland) announced at the Rosedale Volunteer Fire Co. a more than $4.5 million grant to support and protect them. This comes not long after it was revealed that a Reisterstown Volunteer firefighter was not properly suited when he died in the line of duty in 2013.
"You don't know what you're facing in terms of particular chemical hazards, the smell and toxicity of a plastic sofa on fire, the chemicals that people have in their home that can not only burn the house but burn the lungs," Mikulski said.
The money from today’s grant will help provide new equipment for career and volunteer departments. Last year, volunteer firefighter Gene Kirchner died when fighting a house fire. The report that followed showed he was not wearing his facemask, his hood or his helmet.
"Our job is to protect you so that you can protect us. You need to have the right equipment that enables to save your life so that you can save our lives," Mikulski said.
About $2.5 million is going directly to the Baltimore County Fire Department to buy 372 sets of breathing apparatus. This equipment enables firefighters to breathe in smoke-filled environments.
The rest of the grant is going to the Maryland State Firemen's Association. It will be used to conduct a state recruiting and training program for all of the volunteer departments.