U.S. House Passes Spanberger Legislation to Provide More than $900,000 for New Blackstone Fire Truck

Jul 29, 2021
Local Issues
Press

House-Passed Legislation Would Provide Blackstone with an Aerial Fire Truck to Help Protect Local Homes, Businesses & Fort Pickett

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. House of Representatives today voted to pass U.S. Representative Abigail Spanberger’s legislation that would 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-passed fiscal year (FY) 2022 appropriations package — would 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.

“Public safety should be one of our top priorities as elected officials. 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 this effort to secure funding in the House-passed appropriations bill for this new vehicle,” said Spanberger. “This fire truck would address an existing public safety concern in Central Virginia and help protect local homes, businesses, schools, and lives. Additionally, it would give the community’s dedicated volunteer firefighters the support and resources they deserve. I am grateful for the cooperation of local leaders in securing this funding, and I look forward to keeping the momentum going on this effort — and eventually getting this much-needed funding signed into law.”

“With significant growth now underway in Blackstone involving several multiple-story lodging facilities, and particularly with expansion of activities at Fort Pickett, a modern, reliable ladder truck is a vital, essential tool in our community’s public safety efforts,” said Billy Coleburn, Mayor, Town of Blackstone. “I can’t say enough good things about the diligence and devotion of Congresswoman Spanberger and her staff in understanding our needs and helping us achieve this.”

“The Town of Blackstone is humbled by the assistance provided by its partners at Nottoway County, USDA and especially Representative Spanberger and staff,” said Phillip Vanoorbeeck, Town Manager, Blackstone. “The Town is furthermore proud to provide to our county’s essential frontline firefighters the apparatus so essential to serving our growing communities.  Thanks again to our partners and we look forward to a long and useful life for this ladder truck.”

“We applaud the funding approval for an aerial ladder truck for the Town of Blackstone Fire Department,” said Maj. Gen. Timothy P. Williams, the Adjutant General of Virginia, Major General of the Virginia Army National Guard. “The Virginia Army National Guard Maneuver Training Center Fort Pickett enjoys a great relationship with the Town of Blackstone and surrounding communities, and this funding would close a serious gap in the ability of area fire departments to respond to multiple-story structure fires or rescue situation in the community, the Foreign Affairs Security Training Center and MTC Fort Pickett. The approval of this funding and the subsequent acquisition of an aerial ladder truck would greatly enhance the capabilities and overall safety of Blackstone and MTC Fort Pickett communities, and we appreciate the support of the team effort to get the funding approved.”

This aerial fire truck would 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 Virginia Army National Guard installation.

The FY2022 appropriations package now goes to the U.S. Senate for further consideration.

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 ten 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. 

Spanberger has consistently worked to secure funding for Central Virginia projects that would create new jobs, make infrastructure improvements, and strengthen the local economy. Recently, she joined a bipartisan majority of the U.S. House in voting to pass the INVEST in America Act, which includes more than $22.7 million in federal resources for Central Virginia transportation and infrastructure projects that Spanberger successfully secured in the legislation.

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