Baltimore Gas & Electric Co. on Wednesday donated $317,883 to groups across the state that BGE President and CEO Kenneth DeFontes Jr. calls the utility company's "kindred spirits" — Maryland's emergency responders.
"This is something new for us," DeFontes said at gathering of emergency and fire personnel at the Jan. 23 announcement event held at Pikesville Volunteer Fire Company's station. "It was the brainchild of my team of people who look at how we could engage with the emergency responders in the state, so we developed this grant program and I couldn't be more pleased with the success."
Forty emergency response and safety entities from Baltimore City and Baltimore, Anne Arundel, Carroll, Harford, Howard, Montgomery and Prince George's counties received the grants. BGE launched the grant program in late 2012. Eligible organizations that provide emergency services support throughout BGE's central Maryland service area – either preparedness or response and recovery – were able to apply for a single grant of up to $10,000, a release stated.
Each entity is using the funds for different purposes although all are being used to improve in some manner their emergency response, BGE officials said.
"You can see quite a diversity of the ways this money can be put to good use," DeFontes said. "That's kind of what's cool about it, because we reached out to the community and said, 'You tell us what the need is.' "
Several Baltimore County volunteer fire stations, including Providence, Pikesville and Arbutus, earmarked the grant money for thermal imaging cameras. North Point Edgemere Volunteer Fire Company requested a new marine fire rescue vessel; and the Arcadia Volunteer Fire Company purchased Jaws of Life equipment.
"In these fiscally turbulent times that we're living in, companies that award money to volunteer organizations are very, very, very much appreciated," Chuck Bollanger, president of the Baltimore County Volunteer Fire Association, said.
The Red Cross Central Maryland Chapter plans to obtain and stock four emergency trailers to be stored in Howard, Carroll, Anne Arundel and Harford counties to shorten the response time from its Baltimore headquarters.
Linnea Anderson, corporate giving officer for the American Red Cross Chesapeake Region, said it can take anywhere between four and six hours after a disaster strikes to pack a trailer and deliver supplies to those who need help.
"Now, with the generous gift from BGE, the Red Cross will be able to preposition trailers in all of our counties," Anderson said. "Those trailers will be ready. They will have cots in them, they will have food, they will have water, they will have blankets to keep people warm, and when help can't wait, we won't lose those critical few hours."