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Increase in emergency calls in Lackawanna County

Only two months into the year, several fire departments say there's an uptick in call volume, including structure fires.

LACKAWANNA COUNTY, Pa. — When the call goes out, firefighters jump into action. Departments all around Lackawanna County say that has been happening more frequently than in the past couple of years.

Scranton Fire Chief John Judge says they've had more than 430 emergency calls in the first two months of the year.

"About 7 percent up just over since January 1, as far as incidents, so I mean that's kind of significant," said Chief Judge.

The same goes for Carbondale. Firefighter Carl Schweinsburg says their emergency calls total more than 200 so far, including seven structure fires. That's already close to last year's total of 11.

"It takes its toll, increases cost because we burn fuel just like everybody else, and that increased costs and increased demands on the membership," said Schweinsburg.

Both fire departments say it's not uncommon to have extra calls during the winter months but with this winter being as cold as it was, that's when they've had more problems than usual.

"One of the trends that we are seeing is a use or misuse of supplemental heating devices, whether it be electric, or we are seeing an increase in people going back to wood stoves," said Schweinsburg.

Firefighters say prevention is the first step and that starts with smoke detectors. Chief Judge in Scranton says he's seen a trend in recent fires where smoke detectors weren't working or not installed.

"We're seeing substantial damage and, in some cases, we're seeing injuries and deaths which is disturbing, but you know, we're poised here in a department with the recent grant from FEMA to make sure that we could start getting smoke detectors in people's houses," said Judge.

Most fire departments, including Scranton, offer free smoke and carbon monoxide detectors to any residents who need them.

If you live in Scranton, you can make a request by calling 570-348-4132 or emailing smokedetectors@scrantonpa.gov.

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