Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski at a press conference at North Point-Edgemere Volunteer Fire Department on March 29. Photo via Facebook Live.

Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski on Tuesday announced the allocation of $1 million in American Rescue Plan Act funds to the county’s 29 volunteer fire companies. 

“Today, we know that our responders continue to face risks and hardships,” Olszewski said at a press conference at North Point-Edgemere Volunteer Fire Department, “That’s why we are taking steps to further support them, their mental and physical health and safety.” 

“Each and every one of our 29 volunteer fire companies will benefit from these grants,” Olszewski said. 

The funding comes after the county faced a backlash following a decision to allocate ARPA funds to give paid firefighters a bonus. 

The county’s volunteer fire companies can use the $1 million in accordance with their individual needs, as long as the spending meets federal ARP guidelines, Olszewski said. 

In addition to funding from the county, volunteer firefighters rely on fundraising to finance their operations. 

“The fundraising was hit really hard these past couple of years,” Fire Chief Joanne Rund said at the press conference, “We look forward to a productive year and providing them the very needed tools that they need to be able to get out there on the street and help the citizens.”

Baltimore County has around 1,000 volunteer responders, Baltimore County Volunteer Firefighter’s Association President Thomas Ludwig said. 

“We want to continue to support them, not just through this ARPA grant, but also as we look towards our capital budget and other support,” Olzewski said, “The losses are real and the service is critical.”