Fire department grant funds could burn out

First Posted: 2/11/2015

WASHINGTON — Thanks to a firestorm of controversy in Washington, fire departments in Ohio could feel the burn, according to U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown.

New funding for the Department of Homeland Security is in limbo in the Senate after the Republican-led House passed a funding bill that would restrict President Barack Obama’s executive actions on immigration reform. If funding is not passed by Feb. 27, the department could shut down, along with more than $100 million in Assistance to Firefighter Grant money to Ohio fire departments.

These programs “provide fire departments with funds to purchase new equipment, protective gear and emergency vehicles.” Brown, D-Ohio, said.

Brown accuses Republican lawmakers of using this funding bill to gain political points while potentially depriving fire departments of much needed funding.

“Games should be played with bats and balls, not our nation’s security,” he said. “That’s why I’m sponsoring a clean bill. Fund Homeland Security and don’t make political statements.”

House Speaker John Boehner, R-West Chester, threw the blame back on Democrats on Wednesday, according to a report from The Associated Press.

“The House has done its job,” he told reporters. “Why don’t you go ask the Senate Democrats when they’re going to get off their ass and do something other than vote ‘no’?”

U.S. Rep. Bob Latta, R-Bowling Green, echoed the sentiment, noting that the onus is on the Senate to get the department funded.

“The House has passed legislation to fund the Department of Homeland Security and stop the president’s unconstitutional actions,” he said in a statement. “It’s time for the Senate to get to work and do the same.”

Fire departments in Allen County have 10 pending grants totalling almost $1.95 million. The Shawnee Township Fire Department would receive the largest amount of funding, with two grants worth more than $874,000.

“We’re seeking to upgrade our self-contained breathing apparatus and our response jackets that are reflective and waterproof,” public information officer John Norris said. “ We’ve also put in for a hazmat vehicle.”

At this point, the Fire Department would have no alternative if funding is cut off.

“We have no Plan B,” Norris said. “We’re just going to wait this out and see what happens.”

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