State Rep. Keith McCall, D-Carbon, said that the applications are now open for the state's Volunteer Fire and Volunteer Ambulance Service Grant Program.

"In Carbon County our volunteer fire and ambulance companies are saving lives and property while saving us millions of dollars, so this grant program in an outstanding state investment in our communities," McCall said. "Our volunteer firefighters and ambulance personnel want to help protect their communities not spend all their time raising funds and this grant program can help."

The funding comes from legislation McCall co-sponsored that created a $25 million annual fund to provide grants of up to $15,000 to every eligible fire company and $10,000 to every eligible ambulance company in the state that applies. The grants can be used to build or repair a company's primary structure, purchase or repair firefighting or rescue equipment, pay for training, or reduce debt.

"Studies have shown that volunteer emergency services save the taxpayers $6 billion per year in taxes and insurance costs, so this program is a smart investment that helps protect the safety of our friends and neighbors who put their lives on the line for us," McCall said.

The online application period began Sept. 8 and will remain open until Oct. 23. Only projects initiated after July 1, 2009 will be considered eligible for the current grant year.

To apply online or for more information about the program, visit www.osfc.state.pa.us.