Pa. State Fire Commissioner Ed Mann told firefighters and other emergency responders what state and federal grant programs are available and common errors which can get applications rejected.

Mann spoke during a grant seminar organized by State Representative Doyle Heffley on Wednesday in the Lehighton Borough Annex.

About 40 people attended, representing about a dozen fire Carbon County fire departments as well as the Lehighton Ambulance Association.

Mann said competition for some fo the grants will become more intense as budget constraints caused some grant programs - including Homeland Security Agency programs - to have less government funding.

Of the Homeland Security Grants, Mann said there has been a 54 percent funding reduction in Pennsylvania this year over last year, and another 54 percent reduction is anticipated next year.

"The competition on that money is going to get a lot tighter than it has ever been," Mann told the emergency personnel.

Heffley sat through the duration of the three-hour seminar and assured he will do whatever he can to assist volunteers in security grants.

Mann praised Heffley not only for hosting the seminar, but for staying for the entire program. He said it isn't uncommon for lawmakers to host such events, but usually the representatives leave after just a few minutes.

"The fact that he sat through the whole thing is something to remember," Mann said of Heffley.

Mann outlined procedures, steps, and common problems regarding financial grants.

Among the most common problems, he said, are waiting until the last minute to file the application, failure to apply for the maximum amount, changes in officers or the person completing the application, and applying for unauthorized projects.

He stressed that organizations applying for grants read over the application several times before submitting it to assure there are no errors.

He also mentioned that failure to follow directions specified in the grant application is a common reason for rejection.

Mark Nalesnik, Carbon County Emergency Management Agency director, remarked, "On behalf of the fire companies of Carbon County, we appreciate Representative Heffley making these arrangements. It clears up a lot of questions on grants and loans."