By Mary Grace Keller
The Frederick News-Post, Md.
Volunteer fire and rescue companies across Frederick County, Maryland, are slotted to receive nearly $630,000 in federal funding to help make up for the fundraising losses they suffered during the COVID-19 pandemic.
In total, 181 volunteer agencies that applied for funding across the state will receive $4 million, made available through the Recovery for the Economy, Livelihoods, Industries, Entrepreneurs, and Families (RELIEF) Act of 2021, the Maryland Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) announced Wednesday.
The Maryland General Assembly enacted the RELIEF Act “to provide needed relief to the volunteer fire service as a result of the loss of fund-raising revenue during the past year,” according to the MEMA news release.
Twenty volunteer agencies in Frederick County will receive funding in various amounts, ranging from just under $6,000 to more than $107,000. Frederick County led the state in applicants and in awards granted. Baltimore County received the next highest portion at approximately $390,000, the release states. The release did not specify when the funds would be distributed.
In Urbana, the news came as the fire department was gearing up to start its summer carnival — an event they couldn’t hold last year.
“In a nutshell, we’re very pleased,” Chief Jim May said. The department was allotted approximately $107,500.
The money will go toward a variety of needs to help keep the volunteer organization running. There’s station upkeep to consider, apparatus to replace, a building loan to pay off, and more, he said. May is hoping they can start planning for a new pumper truck soon, which will likely cost at least $600,000.
“The monthly obligations don’t stop,” May said, even when the pandemic started.
In addition to the carnival, their largest fundraiser, the company missed out on bingo and raffles members usually rely on to bring in revenue. Frederick County government does allot them funding, May acknowledged, but it doesn’t cover all of their operating expenses. Fundraisers make up the difference.
Shane Darwick, director/deputy chief of the Frederick County Division of Volunteer Fire & Rescue Services, expects the RELIEF Act will live up to its name.
“It’ll help them recover tremendously from the losses they incurred,” Darwick said. “It came out a lot greater for Frederick County than what we expected.”
May said the Urbana department actually applied for a little more than they received through the RELIEF Act, but he emphasized he’s grateful for any financial assistance. He was a bit surprised they got as much as they did, considering how many agencies applied.
The award won’t make up for all of their losses, May said, but it certainly helps.
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