On Tuesday evening, Chief Financial Officer and State Fire Marshal Jimmy Patronis launched Florida’s Firefighter Grant Assistance Program with a check delivered to the Monticello Volunteer Fire Department. The first of its kind, the grant program will benefit volunteer fire departments across Florida by making funding available to purchase costly fire safety equipment. During its initial year, nine fire departments will receive a total of $150,000. Recognizing its life-saving importance, the Florida Legislature increased second-year funding to $1 million.
CFO Patronis said, “Florida’s firefighters lay their lives on the line every day to protect our friends and family, and I’m proud to lead a program that will help them purchase better protective gear. As this new program grows, we’ll keep working until every fire department across Florida has the resources they need to keep themselves and our citizens safe.”
An estimated 12 million Floridians depend on the services and protection provided by volunteer firefighters, yet a wide variety of fire departments lack the financial resources needed to supply firefighters with current safety equipment and training.
Monticello Volunteer Fire Chief Lester Lawrence said, “Volunteer fire departments are often underfunded, and this program answers a call for help from the fire service community. The Florida Fire Chiefs Association (FFCA) values a close working relationship with the State Fire Marshal, and we appreciate the efforts made by CFO Patronis and the entire State Fire Marshal team to address this issue.”
Representative Halsey Beshears, who co-sponsored the 2016 legislation (HB 651) that created the program, joined CFO Patronis to deliver the check.
Representative Halsey Beshears said, “I’ve seen the needs of volunteer fire departments first hand, and I know this program will save lives by offering better protection to the first responders who run straight into dangerous situations. I thank Chief Patronis for offering me the opportunity to join him in delivering the very first grant funds.”
The application process for 2017-2018 grant funding is open now. All fire departments open for more than five years can apply. To qualify, all applicants must complete a needs assessment survey to outline their need and intended use of grant funds. A committee of fire service leaders review and approve all applications. The application is available here.