Red Cross fire responses up in Lancaster County, need additional volunteers

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LANCASTER COUNTY, Pa. -- The Lancaster Red Cross says they're hurting for volunteers. This call for help comes a week before a national push for volunteers during 'National Volunteer Week'.

The organization has responded to more fires in the past 8 months than they did all of last year in Lancaster County.

An official with the Red Cross of Central Pennsylvania tells me they're not positive if it's because there's been more fires, but families have definitely needed more help across the county after the fires.

The Red Cross of Lancaster has been called to help more families after fires in the county than they have in previous years...

"July to March, we've assisted more people in that time period than we did all last fiscal year. Without volunteers, we won't be able to do that," said Hope Roaten who is the Disaster Program Manager for the Red Cross of Central Pennsylvania.

For March, Lancaster County was the highest of Dauphin, York, and Lebanon counties with 77 fire assists, providing kits and other supplies to families in need.

"It certainly pulls a stain on those folks, and we, our volunteers are everything, the life blood of the organization," said Roaten.

With 268 assists for all of last year in Lancaster County and 311 for the past 8 months, they worry they could burn out the help they do have in the county.

"We've seen kind of an uptick in calls in eastern Lancaster county, in Columbia, Elizabethtown, Mount Joy," she added.

The captain with the Lancaster City Fire Marshal's office says the number of fires in the city are about normal for this time of year, and for officials with Lancaster Township Fire and Columbia Borough Fire, the same deal.

Captain Ken Wright says having functional smoke detectors are essential in lessening fire calls, but that isn't always possible.

"Number one, it could be that the fire department there doesn't have the access to get the smoke detectors," said Wright. "The other reason could be they don't have enough people to enforce the ordinance or the code they have adopted.">

He says enforcing the ordinanceĀ is crucial in reducing the number of times fire crews and the Red Cross are responding to fires.

"That's your first line of defense," explained Captain Wright.


This Saturday the Red Cross of Central Pennsylvania will install free smoke alarms in Lebanon county, and on May 19, they will be installing free smoke alarms in Columbia, Lancaster County, where officials say they've had an increase in fire calls. For more information on how to volunteer, please visit their website.