U.S. Senators Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen and Congressman John Sarbanes (all D-Md.) announced more than $238,400 in federal funds for the Odenton Volunteer Fire Co. (OVFC) through the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) grant.

Through this four-year award, the department will work to attract new firefighters and retain existing personnel, building upon the progress made through a similar 2015 grant. Specifically, activities will include providing incentives and training opportunities and recognizing individual participation. Recruitment and retention are key challenges at the OVFC and nationwide.

The SAFER grant program enhances the ability of fire departments around the country to attain and maintain 24-hour staffing by providing grants directly to fire departments. Specifically, the grants help fire departments increase the number of frontline firefighters and help rehire firefighters who lost their jobs during the economic downturn. The SAFER program provides approximately $350 million in competitive grants to fire departments and statewide or local volunteer firefighter support groups.