WASHINGTON, DC—Fire departments in Lyeffion, Plantersville, and Saraland will soon receive a total of $316,920 in federal grant funding to purchase protective equipment and emergency vehicles for the communities' first responders, U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) announced on Wednesday.
Lyeffion Volunteer Fire Department will receive a $190,000 grant, and the Plantersville Volunteer Fire Department will receive a $90,820 grant, each to be used to purchase a new emergency vehicles or fire truck. The Saraland Fire and Rescue Department will receive $36,100 in federal funding for a self-contained breathing apparatus air compressor, which allows a firefighter to have breathable air in dangerous circumstances.
The equipment will allow the departments to meet safety standards issued by the National Fire Protection Association and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
The funding was made available in the first round of Assistance to Firefighter Grant awards, issued through the Department of Homeland Security to help local fire departments acquire new emergency equipment and enhance safety operations. Unlike earmarks, federal grants, which are included in the annual federal budget and do not represent additional spending, are awarded through a competitive process to select the most meritorious recipient of funds from a pool of applicants.
"One of my top priorities in the Senate is to support leaders across Alabama as they work to improve our local communities. The grant funding released today represents an important investment in a number of local fire departments in Alabama, including funds for the Lyeffion Volunteer Fire Department, Plantersville Volunteer Fire Department, and the Saraland Fire and Rescue Department," Sessions said. "Firefighters risk their lives to protect our communities, and it's critical we keep their equipment and training up to date. These important Homeland Security grants will help volunteers at these fire departments better serve their community."
The Assistance to Firefighters Grant program is one of the most popular grant programs offered by the federal government. The Department intends to distribute more than $560 million from fiscal year 2010 funds to fire departments across the country.
Alabama's local fire departments have benefited from the program in the past. Fire departments in Alabama were awarded over $23 million in grants last year, the fifth-highest total in the country.
Federal grant programs are one way that local leaders, elected officials, and non-profit organizations can secure support for their efforts to improve local communities.
Twenty-six federal agencies administer over 1,000 different competitive grant programs each year. Sessions' Birmingham office, which provided support to the Lyeffion VFD, Plantersville VFD, and Saraland Fire and Rescue Department during the application process, includes a full-time staff member to help officials around the state seeking federal grants.
In the last two years, the office has assisted in obtaining more than $210 million in competitive federal funds for communities and non-profit organizations in Alabama. Sessions' office also publishes a Weekly Grants Advisory, available on Sessions' website, www.sessions.senate.gov, to make grant information and application procedures more accessible to leaders in Alabama.