WASHINGTON, DC— Congressman Adrian Smith (R-NE), Ranking Member of the House Subcommittee on Technology and Innovation, today welcomed Ed Carlin, Training Officer for the Spalding Rural Volunteer Fire Department, who offered testimony before the subcommittee on the challenges facing rural fire departments.
Carlin, who also serves as a Captain on the Grand Island Fire Department, traveled to Washington, D.C., to provide a rural perspective regarding the reauthorization of the Assistance to Firefighters Grants (AFG) Program and the Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response Program – programs which provide assistance to fire departments across the nation.
“Our fire department functions with 35 members. Rural fire departments provide emergency services such as fire, EMS, rescue, hazardous material response, airport response and technical rescue such as trench and high angle rescues. Obtaining equipment to protect our firefighters and allow them to conduct their missions in a safe, efficient manner would be next to impossible without the AFG program,” Carlin told Members of Congress at the hearing.
“In rural areas, many communities rely upon all-volunteer departments to respond to fires and other emergencies. The equipment needed to fight fires and save lives and property is costly. These programs have proven absolutely vital for rural and volunteer fire departments which have small tax bases and less ability to acquire such equipment.
“Population and call volume isn’t the only determinant of need, and we must be cognizant of the unique role our volunteer firefighters play in serving their communities and not limit an extremely critical source of funding for their departments,” Smith said in his opening statement.