CENTRE COUNTY, Pa. (WTAJ) — The first step is being taken towards funding a Centre County Public Safety Training Center expansion project that will serve first responders in 18 counties.

At their Oct. 31 meeting, the Centre County Board of Commissioners adopted a resolution to support the project through the Commonwealth Financing Authority’s Local Share Assessment
grant pool. The $1,000,000 grant for the project will be distributed through the Department of Community and Economic Development.

“This is going to be something that takes this site to the next level as far as training ability and I think we’re all excited to see where that goes,” Commissioner Steve Dershem said.

The building is set to feature five classrooms, an ambulance bay, shower areas, a computer lab and a self-defense training space as a way of upgrading the technology for the next generation of first responders. Organizers at the Training Center said the expansion is need.

“We have grown from roughly 50 classes to in 2022, 130 classes,” Coordinator Mark Keller said. “Just to be qualified to ride a fire truck you have to have 160 hours of training.”

Commissioner Amber Concepcion said securing more funding for the project, which is estimated to cost between four and five million dollars, is a key priority for the board heading into 2024.

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“We are facing a critical need for volunteer firefighters, for people to be willing to do the EMS Training, because we’ve had sort of a demographic cliff here,” Concepcion said.