OCEAN CITY, MD (June 11, 2010) – Governor Martin O’Malley honored Maryland’s heroes this morning at the annual convention of the Maryland State Firemen’s Association. More than 1,500 members gathered in Ocean City, including volunteer firefighters and Fire Chiefs from across the State. The Maryland State Firemen’s Association (MSFA) is a volunteer organization founded in 1893 to represent, advocate and promote the interests of the volunteer fire, rescue and EMS companies in Maryland.
“It’s been one of the great honors of my time in public life to witness the courage and heroism of Maryland’s Bravest,” said Governor O’Malley. “After others run out of danger, the men and women of the MSFA choose to run in, putting their own lives on the line to save the lives of fellow citizens you’ve never met. It’s this type of heroism, this type of courage, this type of commitment to service that represents the very best of who we are as Marylanders.”
The O’Malley-Brown Administration has increased state investments in important public safety initiatives, and funds to assist public safety officials and their families. In addition to funding for the purchase of new State Police Medevac helicopters, the Governor has launched an effort to build an interoperable communications network for public safety agencies throughout the state. After a decade’s worth of previous efforts, the new Interoperability Office successfully issues a request for proposals and the project is expected to be awarded this year.
In addition to providing $13.1 million in funding for MSFA operating costs in the FY11 budget, a nearly 10 percent increase from four years ago, Governor O’Malley increased funding for the MSFA Widows and Orphans Fund by 48 percent compared to the four years prior. In addition, Governor O’Malley increased investments in the Charles Riley Tuition Reimbursement program by 18 percent, and investments in the Edward Conroy memorial Scholarship by 40 percent compared to the four years prior. These scholarship programs provide tuition funds for active firefights, and for dependents of public safety personnel killed or disabled in the line of duty, respectively.
Last year, Governor O’Malley signed legislation to generate new revenue for the Volunteer Company Assistance Fund, as well as legislation that establishes duties of drivers when emergency vehicles approach from the rear of a stopped or standing vehicle.
Year to date, Maryland has experiences ten fewer fire-related deaths than the same period one year ago, including a 52% decrease in fire-related fatalities in Baltimore City alone.