Release: Sanders and U.S. Fire Administrator Announce Funding for Vermont Fire Departments

RANDOLPH CENTER, Vt., March 20 – Meeting with Vermont first responders and the nation’s top federal fire official, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) today announced almost $900,000 in federal grants for nine fire departments across the state.

Sanders and U.S. Fire Administrator Kelvin Cochran, the top federal fire official with the Department of Homeland Security, hosted a summit with firefighters and emergency medical services (EMS) personnel at Vermont Technical College in Randolph Center. 

“Vermont’s volunteer and professional firefighters and emergency medical services personnel provide an invaluable service,” Sanders said. “We must increase federal grant programs and help more communities receive the assistance they need and deserve.”

So far in 2010, Department of Homeland Security grants totaling $875,779 in safety and operational funding have been distributed to:

  • Norwich Volunteer Fire Department -- $6,270
  • Jay Volunteer Fire Department -- $28,220
  • West Dummerston Volunteer Fire Department -- $45,220
  • St. Albans Town Fire Department -- $3,325
  • West Fairlee Fire Department -- $91,656
  • Rutland City Fire Department -- $90,326
  • Enosburgh Fire Department -- $61,969
  • South Burlington Fire Department -- $503,364
  • Rupert Volunteer Fire Department -- $45,429

Sanders thanked the Vermont firefighting and EMS community for all that they do for the people of our state.  The state has 3,000 certified emergency medical services personnel, of which roughly 75 percent are volunteers. Altogether, they answer approximately 60,000 calls per year.  There are 300 professional firefighters and 5,600 volunteers. 

“These brave men and women put their lives on the line every day,” Sanders said. “They save lives and property.  They protect us 24 hours a day, seven days a week and 365 days a year.  We’re grateful for all that they do.”

Cochran, the Homeland Security official who came to Vermont at Sanders’ invitation, discussed training available through the National Fire Academy and the state academy.  He discussed recruitment and retention efforts and the challenges facing fire department during tough economic times. The administrator also highlighted the importance of utilizing available data.

During the conference, Sanders, Cochran and the firefighters toured a nearly-completed live-burn training building on the Vermont Technical College campus.  Sanders secured federal funding for the facility that was built with additional funding from the state of Vermont and the college.