A fire Monday and another one Friday morning in the east mountain section changed the tone of Scranton’s budget battle.
Critics of firefighting cuts said the slow response time to these fires proved layoffs, and the closing of a substation put public safety in the city at risk.
A quick sweep at the crack of dawn, and Scranton`s east mountain firehouse re-opened, while some of 12 laid off firefighters got their jobs back.
People living near the firehouse said they now feel safer.
“This is what the people need. The fire department never should have been downsized by the administration,” said Janet Evans of the Scranton City Council.
The administration of Mayor Chris Doherty and his long running battle over the staffing over the fire department in a tight city budget reached a truce after two devastating fires this week.
The catalyst, a spectacular fire Friday morning on Froude Street.
With the nearby East Mountain substation closed it took crews from another station three miles away about 10 minutes to reach the scene, enough time firefighters said for a manageable garage fire to spread to the attached home, and destroy it.
Scranton City Council members, who fought the mayor on layoffs, and the east mountain substation closing called the fires dangerous warning signs.
The re-opening eases the human toll of the recent layoffs. Twelve of the nearly 30 Scranton firefighters who lost their jobs are now on duty.
“It`s nice to have our firefighter AJ Samuels back. He was laid off, now he`s been reinstated,” said Captain Donnie Kirschner of the Scranton Fire Department.
Those living near the re-opened station said it`s like welcoming and old friend back to the neighborhood.
“It`s given us a security we haven’t had. And the best thing is, our men will be back up here with us,” said Jeannie Marie Wampus of Scranton.