President Signs into Law Spanberger Legislation to Provide More than $900,000 for New Blackstone Fire Truck

Mar 15, 2022
Local Issues
Press

This Funding will Provide Blackstone with an Aerial Fire Truck to Help Protect Local Homes, Businesses & Fort Pickett

WASHINGTON, D.C. — President Joe Biden today signed into law U.S. Representative Abigail Spanberger’s legislation that will provide $923,937 for the purchase of an aerial ladder fire truck for the Blackstone Volunteer Fire Department.

The funding for the Blackstone Volunteer Fire Department — which Spanberger successfully secured as part of a House and Senate-passed fiscal year (FY) 2022 appropriations package — will address an existing gap in firefighting capabilities in the Town of Blackstone and its neighboring towns, which currently lack an aerial ladder fire truck.

Right now, if a fire incident occurs at higher heights or structures, the Volunteer Fire Department must call in the support of an aerial ladder fire truck from other areas — the closest one more than 30 miles away — and a delay can mean more loss of life and property.

“While in Congress, I have heard directly from community leaders in Blackstone and Nottoway County about the serious need for an aerial fire truck, and I am proud to have led the effort to successfully secure funding for this new vehicle,” said Spanberger. “This fire truck will help protect local homes, businesses, schools, and — most importantly — lives. Additionally, it will provide Blackstone’s volunteer firefighters the support and resources they deserve. I am grateful for the cooperation of local leaders in securing this funding and looking out for their community.”

“In 2020, the Blackstone Volunteer Fire Department had to decommission our 32-year-old Ladder Truck for numerous mechanical and safety concerns. Efforts for funding replacement began years earlier through our local governmental bodies and Federal Grants with no success. Our all-volunteer organization, Town Mayor, and Town Manager understood the importance of this apparatus for the safety of our citizens and growing community. Sadly, efforts to pursue avenues of support in order to reduce the financial burden on our low-income community continued to fail,” said Dion G. Tomer, Fire Chief, Blackstone Volunteer Fire Department. “Without hesitancy, Rep. Abigail Spanberger came through for our fire department and community! We are, and forever will be grateful to Rep. Spanberger and her faculty for helping provide our community with the fire protection they rightly deserve.”

“The cooperation between the Virginia Army National Guard Maneuver Training Center Fort Pickett and the Town of Blackstone and surrounding communities is vital to the safety and security of everyone who lives and works in the area, and the addition of an aerial ladder truck for the Town of Blackstone Fire Department closes a serious gap in capabilities,” said Maj. Gen. Timothy P. Williams, Adjutant General of Virginia, Major General of the Virginia Army National Guard. “This new equipment gives area fire departments the ability to respond to multiple-story structure fires or rescue situations in the community, the Foreign Affairs Security Training Center and MTC Fort Pickett. We greatly appreciate the team effort to get this funding approved.”

“Rep. Spanberger and her entire team have been resolute and relentless in their quest to secure funds for this ladder truck, which will serve all of Nottoway County, including Fort Pickett,” said William D. “Billy” Coleburn, Mayor, Blackstone. “This is a big win for our community and one that will improve public safety, particularly with all the apartment and hotel construction being fueled here by the federal government’s increased presence at Fort Pickett.”

This aerial fire truck will also improve national security readiness due to the Volunteer Fire Department’s support to nearby Fort Picket — home of the U.S. State Department Foreign Affairs Security Training Center and a key Virginia Army National Guard installation.

BACKGROUND

This year, the U.S. House of Representatives implemented a new effort as part of its annual appropriations process, which allowed for specific Community Project Funding requests — like the Blackstone Volunteer Fire Department aerial fire truck. Spanberger worked directly with community leaders in all 10 counties of the Seventh District to gather community-focused requests for her submissions. Click here for a full list of her submissions.

The Community Project Funding process was created to ensure that Members of Congress, in concert with the communities they represent, may submit direct applications for federal funding to support locally planned projects as part of the yearly appropriations process.

To be eligible, projects must be sponsored by local or state government entities or non-profit organizations and must be projects that would otherwise meet the qualifications to apply for federal grant funding. The purpose of Community Project Funding is to ensure direct, local engagement as part of the federal appropriations process. In line with this goal, funding applications must demonstrate significant local support for the projects. 

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