W-B Mayor: City Firewatch To Continue With Former Schedule
Wilkes-Barre Mayor Tony George announced Saturday that the city’s fire watch program will continue, but it will go back to its prior schedule.
The Wilkes-Barre Fire Department has a long-standing fire watch program. Under the program, firefighters hit the streets in fire engines during their down time to check on abandoned and vacant structures.
George ramped up the program in August and firefighter union officials have criticized his action as a waste of money and said it is making conditions more dangerous.
In a press release on Saturday, George said the program was modified in August to require that firefighters be more visible in the community throughout their shifts and “in an effort to have firefighters and fire equipment more readily available to respond to incidents.”
“At this time, after evaluating all of the available data and information collected over the past two months, the decision has been made to restore the prior community fire watch schedule,” George said. “To be clear, fire watches will continue, and we will continue to explore ways to better serve the citizens and enhance public safety”
George said city officials’ intention is to continue to monitor the fire watch program “and make adjustments, if appropriate, consistent with the operational needs of the department and in an effort to provide for the safety of the public.”
— DENISE ALLABAUGH