Jaws of Life, defibrillators and ground search and rescue vehicles are just some of the things that will enhance safety in communities provincewide, thanks to help from the province’s Emergency Services Provider Fund. In total, 222 volunteer fire departments and emergency response organizations across the province will benefit from the fund, with 124 of those projects being announced today, March 19. “Firefighters and first responders are the backbone of our communities”, said Premier Rodney MacDonald. “This fund supports the work they do everyday to keep us safe in our neighbourhoods, town and cities. I wish to extend my heartfelt thanks to the many volunteer firefighters and emergency services workers for their self-less dedication to their communities and to our province.” Announced in September 2007, the fund began as a one-time, $5-million initiative. However, it has grown to almost $8.5 million to address the unique equipment and infrastructure needs of Nova Scotia’s volunteer fire departments and emergency response organizations. These organizations include ground search and rescue, lifeguards and ski patrols. “This financial support will help many volunteer firefighters and first responders get the equipment they need to stay safe while they respond to the safety needs of Nova Scotians in communities across the province,” said Jamie Muir, Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations. “It also assists these groups to purchase equipment to help keep our families safer in our homes and on our roads.” Wayne MacDonald, deputy chief of the East River Valley Volunteer Fire Department, was one of the first recipients to receive funding under this initiative. “With government’s help, we now can buy the much-needed equipment sooner,” said Mr. MacDonald. “We are buying new radios for communications, breathing apparatus bottles, masks, nozzles and proper hoses. One of our biggest purchases was the thermal imaging camera, which will help us to find the source of the fires sooner.” The fund also supported the infrastructure needs of various emergency groups and fire stations. The Berwick Fire Department for example, will receive $250,000 towards the construction of a new fire station. “We know that this fund will not fix everything or purchase every piece of equipment. But, it is a big step in the right direction,” said the premier. The fund was application-based and provided for a maximum of $250,000 for eligible projects. Projects have been approved for every county in Nova Scotia. A complete list of projects funded through the Emergency Services Provider Fund can be found at www.gov.ns.ca/snsmr/muns/espf .