Rep. Lois Capps, D-Santa Barbara, announced on Tuesday that the Carpinteria-Summerland Fire Protection District has been awarded a $473,843 Assistance to Firefighters Grant through the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

The federal funding will be used to upgrade or replace communications equipment for the Santa Barbara City Fire Department, the Montecito Fire Protection District and the Carpinteria-Summerland Fire Protection District with the goal of improving communication among the departments and their firefighters on the ground. The grant will cover 80 percent of the total cost of the equipment upgrades.

“This is great news for the South County and all of its residents. Our firefighters work day in and day out to keep us safe, and we owe it to them to ensure they have the equipment needed to get the job done and that minimizes the risks they face every day while serving our communities. This new communications equipment will do just that,” Capps said. “As local governments continue to face tough budgets, this federal funding couldn’t have come at a better time for the safety of our local firefighters and our neighbors.”

“The implementation of this new equipment will drastically improve our firefighters’ safety and enhance their service delivery to their communities,” Carpinteria-Summerland Fire Chief Mike Mingee said. “I want to give particular thanks to Carpinteria-Summerland Fire Battalion Chief Mike Gallagher and the Office of Congresswoman Lois Capps, whose vision and guidance has led to this award.”

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Assistance to Firefighters Grant program is an important part of the federal government’s coordinated effort to improve the nation’s level of preparedness and ability to respond to fires and other emergencies. This program has provided funding to first responders since 2001.

These grants can be used for a variety of purposes, including the purchase of equipment, improving firefighter health and safety programs, enhancing emergency medical services programs, and conducting fire education and prevention programs.

Click here for more information about the Assistance to Firefighters Grant program.

— Ashley Schapitl is press secretary for Rep. Lois Capps, D-Santa Barbara.