Federal grant to defray cost of fire equipment

The New Windsor Fire and Hose Company No. 1 has received a grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency that will pay most of the cost of a back-up generator and sprinkler system in its new fire station.

The generator is important because "the New Windsor fire hall could be used by the community in an emergency ... as a shelter," said Neal Roop, 46, a town councilman and a member of the fire company for 29 years.


Roop did the paperwork for the Assistance to Firefighters Grant awarded by FEMA, which became part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security last year. The application was submitted in May, and the company was notified of the award Aug. 6, he said.

The $149,895 grant will pay 90 percent of the $166,550 cost of a sprinkler system and a back-up generator, Roop said. The company must pay the rest. Roop said New Windsor will be able to meet the 10 percent requirement.


New Windsor was the only county fire company to receive a FEMA grant this year, although several companies applied, said Leon M. Fleming, the liaison to Carroll County government for the Carroll County Volunteer Emergency Services Association.

He said several companies in Carroll have received grants since the program began.

"The Assistance to Firefighters is a great program," Fleming said. "It gives the departments funding they cannot get from county government or fund-raising."

"Presidents Bush and Clinton have increased it every year," he said. "Senator [Barbara A.] Mikulski has helped us out a lot on this - called and let us know about grants, written letters of support for our grants we put in for."

According to the FEMA Web site, 8,630 fire departments nationwide had received more than $695 million since June last year. It lists numerous awards in Maryland, from Baltimore to small volunteer companies, in three categories: fire operations and firefighter safety; fire prevention; and firefighting vehicles.

The Hampstead Volunteer Fire Engine and Hose Company received about $59,000 last year for a generator and face pieces for self-contained breathing apparatus, Fleming said. The Gamber and Community Fire Company also has received money for breathing apparatus.

Other companies in Carroll that have received awards, according to the FEMA Web site, are the Harney Volunteer Fire Company, the Pleasant Valley Community Fire Company and the Union Bridge Fire Company.

New Windsor's new building will cost between $4.3 million and $4.5 million and will be on Atlee Avenue. It will replace the 50-year-old fire station on High Street in the middle of town, where vehicles must squeeze into the bays and make tight turns to enter and exit.


The new two-story structure will have bigger bays and space for a banquet hall, a modern kitchen and offices.

A sewer line has been relocated, Roop said, and grading could begin this week at the site. The company's carnival grounds also are on Atlee Avenue, which is to be closed off permanently - possibly as soon as today.

"Fund-raising is going good," said Roop, who is the company's chaplain and communications director for the capital campaign. The goal is to raise $1.5 million from the community.

The New Windsor Town Council recently approved a $10,000 yearly contribution to the project for the next five years, subject to annual approval, Roop said. The Carroll County commissioners also have approved a low-interest loan of up to $3 million.

A groundbreaking ceremony was held during the company's carnival week in June, and Roop said members hope the new building will be completed by carnival week next year.

"There's a tremendous amount of dirt that needs to be moved" to make the site level, he said. The completion date will depend upon "how much we can get under roof before winter weather comes."


Whatever the building status, he said, the fire company plans to go back to the FEMA program. "Next year, we plan on submitting an application for a new piece of apparatus: a pumper."