HUNTINGDON COUNTY, PA (WTAJ) — U.S. Senator Bob Casey stopped by a fire company in Huntingdon County to highlight the American Rescue Plan funding usage.

Last Tuesday, Jan. 10, the Huntingdon County Commissioners unanimously approved $450,000 in American Rescue Plan funding for first responders. This funding would be divide among the county’s 24 fire and EMS companies.

Casey visited the Marklesburg Volunteer Fire Company in James Creek. Additionally, he spoke with county commissioners Mark Sather and Jeff Thomas.

Each emergency service company should receive around $18,000. That funding could be used towards anything the fire or EMS company needs. All the county first responder companies are volunteer and rely on donations and fundraisers to maintain operations.

Casey noted how most of the fire companies within the state are volunteer. According to the PA House website, there’s approximately 2,500 fire companies in the state, and 90% are volunteer.

He expressed how this federal funding was essential and monumental in helping the smaller counties and communities. Huntingdon County received $8 million from the bill.

Casey added there should be more opportunities for permanent funding to rural communities. He added how funding can’t be limited to community grants, and tax dollars placed in the government go back to the counties.

“We have to do everything we can to provide any needs of support. When I say we, I mean the federal government,” Casey said. “I don’t think this should be limited 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 it shouldn’t be the end of the story.”

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Marklesburg Fire Chief Marlin Hunsicker said the funds would be used for a new stretcher and possibly a new roof. Otherwise, they’re unsure where to spend the money.