U.S Sen. Bob Casey (D) of Pennsylvania visited a Huntingdon County fire company Thursday to highlight American Rescue Plan Act funds directed to local emergency services.
Douglas Braff was there and spoke with the senator about issues plaguing local emergency services.
“In the mid 1970s, we had more than 300,000 volunteer firefighters in the state, Now that number is down below 40,000.”
It’s no secret that a number of local fire companies in our region and around the country, for that matter, face funding and volunteerism issues. A number of them in Huntingdon County received ARPA funds.
That includes Marklesburg Volunteer Fire Company in James Creek, who received about $36,000 of the county’s $450,000.
It’ll help with some of the increased costs of equipment. It’ll help for the loss revenue due to the pandemic, cause our fundraising was over.”
I can’t even begin to imagine the challenges fire companies face.”
“Most of our state, by way of population, is served not by paid a fire companies but by volunteer fire companies.”
The Senate Democrat stopped by MVFC Thursday, touring the fire house and speaking with the team about the funding and issues they still face.
“So, we have to do everything we can to provide any means of support, When I say ‘we,’ I mean the federal government, and I don’t think this should be limited just to a pandemic-related time period. The American Rescue Plan was one of the best things the federal government did in a long time, but I don’t think it should be the end of the story.”
However, one thing grant money can’t fix is volunteerism.
“On the recruitment end, it’s rare we get a new person in the door, A lot of it comes probably back to training and time commitments for the training to put into it. It’s not as easy as it used to be.”
“You didn’t need as much income as you do nowadays,”
We asked the senator if those ARPA funds were just a temporary bandaid for a longer term problem.
“I think, for that moment, it was a lot more than a Bandaid. It was it was essential, It allowed counties to keep their head above water and not have to be in a deficit situation.”
“we learned a lot of lessons in the pandemic,” with one of those lessons being that “communities need help there.”