WASHINGTON – U.S. Rep. Lou Barletta announced that two regional fire departments, including one from Carbon County, will receive a total of almost $73,000 in grants through the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Assistance to Firefighters Grants (AFG) program.

Hauto Volunteer Fire Department in Nesquehoning will receive $28,690. The money will be used to purchase radios that comply with new bandwidth requirements

The Wilkes-Barre City Fire Department will receive $44,100. The money will be used to purchase new breathing systems that firefighters wear when they enter burning buildings.

Both grants are for the departments' "Operations and Safety," according to FEMA. More rounds of 2011 AFG program awards are expected.

"As a former mayor, I know how critical it is to fund public safety programs, and these FEMA Assistance to Firefighters Grants will help two communities in Northeastern Pennsylvania provide vital safety and security for their residents and the firefighters themselves," Barletta said. "In these challenging economic times, these grants will be welcome news to the firefighters and residents of Wilkes-Barre and Nesquehoning."

The primary goal of the Assistance to Firefighters Grant program is to meet the firefighting and emergency response needs of fire departments and nonaffiliated emergency medical service organizations. Since 2001, AFG has helped firefighters and other first responders to obtain critically needed equipment, protective gear, emergency vehicles, training, and other resources needed to protect the public and emergency personnel from fire and related hazards.