County Helps Volunteer Fire Departments Keep the Lights On

Carnivals hosted by fire departments were cancelled this year, leaving VFDs in need of funds. Courtesy: Odenton Volunteer Fire Co.

By Krista Pfunder 

Volunteer fire departments across the country have been forced to cancel fundraising events due to the pandemic. In Anne Arundel County, the departments can replace some of those lost funds through a new grant program. 

More than $400,000 of the county’s federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act funding will go to support county volunteer fire companies. 

“Many fundraising events were either canceled or limited to smaller crowds,” says Bob Rose, president of the Anne Arundel County Volunteer Firefighters Association. “Several companies had to cancel their carnivals, bingos and bull roasts. A few have been able to modify the food-related events to drive-up or curbside delivery, but revenues are down substantially for most companies.” 

The grant will help the volunteer companies that depend on every dollar from fundraising and hall rentals to support their mission. For those who are saving for future apparatus and equipment purchases, those funds also took a hit. 

“Many have been able to cut back on discretionary spending but certain critical items such as loan payments on apparatus or facilities and utility payments must be made,” Rose says. “The county provides some monetary support but it does not cover all expenses.”  

Keeping the lights is just one of the challenges local departments are facing. 

The Anne Arundel County Fire Department is a combination department — meaning it consists of both career and volunteer firefighters — and includes more than 330 active volunteer members in 15 companies.  

“Most volunteer companies are always recruiting, but during COVID-19 we have had challenges,” Rose says. “While we have admitted new members some of the training required has been postponed or moved to virtual learning.” 

Companies have had to limit access to the stations except for critical personnel needed for emergency response or required administrative duties.  “Members not engaged in critical activities were encouraged to stay home to limit the chance of spreading the disease,” Rose says. 

The following companies are eligible for grants based upon the size of each company and its submitted needs: 

Arnold Volunteer Fire Department, $22,830.00 
Arundel Volunteer Fire Department, $14,912.00 
Deale Volunteer Fire Department, $20,878.66 
Ferndale Volunteer Fire Company, $20,317.09 
Glen Burnie Volunteer Fire Company, $199,400.00 
Lake Shore Volunteer Fire Company, $11,135.00 
Maryland City Volunteer Fire Department, $343.00 
Odenton Volunteer Fire Company, $17,506.46 
Orchard Beach Volunteer Fire Department, $58,441.54 
Riviera Beach Volunteer Fire Company, $39,542.11