The Pikesville and Providence volunteer fire companies each has a new thermal imaging camera to help firefighters see through smoke—and help save people trapped inside burning buildings.
The Owings Mills Volunteer Fire Company has replaced its 25-year-old hose with a new, large-diameter hose. And the Red Cross of the Chesapeake Region now has a new shelter trailer that will be stocked with cots, blankets and other items, and will be ready for an emergency.
They are among 40 emergency responder organizations in Central Maryland that are receiving up to a $10,000 portion of nearly $318,000 in grants from Baltimore Gas and Electric Company.
On Wednesday, BGE leaders and representatives of non-profit groups gathered to announce awards through the 2012 BGE Emergency Responders Safety Grant program.
"I believe that in many ways we are kindred spirits," BGE president and CEO Ken DeFontes Jr. said of BGE and emergency responders. "Baltimore Gas and Electric Company has a team of people ... who go out into the community, respond to public issues, whether it be a gas concern or carbon monoxide leak, or wire down, or storm, or road closure—anything at all that could cause our team to have to be out to restore power."
Like other responders, BGE needs high-tech equipment and well-trained personnel, and they often work with organizations during emergencies, such as storms, he said.
That's why BGE is helping those groups, he said. "It's a re-engagement with the community," he said.
Some of the grants were used to purchase defibrillators, radio systems, thermal imager cameras, rescue tools and carbon monoxide detection equipment.
Pikesville Volunteer Fire Company Captain Larry Goldberg spoke during the ceremony, representing all of the grantees.
"When there are wires down during a storm or emergency, people pick up the phone and they call. But they don't really understand how dangerous wire down-type calls actually are," he said.
"If it weren't for our close relationship with BGE and the training they provide in dealing with electrical emergencies, who knows how many firefighters would have gotten hurt" over the years, Goldberg said.
Throughout BGE's nearly 150 years in business, it has worked closely with fire companies and other organizations during emergencies, DeFontes said after the press conference.
But this new grant program is specifically for non-profit emergency services organizations, and lets each organization request how the money will be spent, he said.
Among the others who spoke during the ceremony were John Denver, president of the Maryland State Firemen's Association; Chuck Bollinger, president of the Baltimore County Volunteer Fire Association, and Linnea Anderson, foundation and corporate giving officer for the American Red Cross of the Chesapeake Region.
Other area organizations received grant money for the following, according to a BGE news release:
Northwest Citizens on Patrol Inc.—Neighborhood watch radio upgrade
Arbutus Volunteer Fire Department—Thermal imaging camera
Friends to Police Exploring—Training and procurement of equipment
Liberty Road Volunteer Fire Company—Replacementof station alerting system