Thursday, July 1st, 2021
136 Truck responded to the 1200 block of Walnut Street to assist EMS with a force entry.
Wednesday, June 30th, 2021
136 Station was dispatched to a commercial fire alarm at the PGA on South Street. Cancelled system was being tested.
Wednesday, June 30th, 2021
136 Rescue responded to the 1200 block of Birkbeck Street to assist EMS with a lift assist.
136 Engine and 136 Truck responded to the trailer court on Schwabe Street for a report of an explosion upon arrival it was un founded and all units returned to service.
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HAPPY 4TH OF JULY FROM THE FREELAND FIRE DEPARTMENT
Thursday, January 21st, 2021
Below is a link to the Freeland Fire Department 2020 video. Special Thanks to James Darvel for putting the video together.
Sunday, December 27th, 2020
Recently FFD held its Annual Meeting to elect officers for the 2021 term. This is the fifth year where FFD officers had to meet minimum requirements to hold their post and Firefighter 1 Pro Board Cer...
Sunday, December 27th, 2020
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These are some photos we recently received from a Freeland resident.
Freeland Fire History

 

Major fires in Freeland Borough


Major Fires in the History of Freeland Borough

-- Compiled by Cal Herring

Dedication: The Freeland Fire Department has had the misfortune to lose two firefighters in the line of duty to their community. The Freeland Fire Department would like at this time to pay tribute to the memories of:
Joseph Stepansky, Sr. of the Citizens Hose Co. He passed while fighting a fire at the Third Ward Playground on the night of May 30, 1964.

Michael E. Karnatski of the Citizens Hose Co. He passed while fighting a fire at 1044 Birkbeck St. on the evening of April 9, 1976.


There have been many fires serious fires throughout the 125 year history of this department. For some of these incidents the records are either non existent or incomplete. The following narrative has been compiled from the information contained in our 100th Anniversary Book and from newspaper and eyewitness reports over the past 25 years.

January 2, 1922 - Stasko Property Heavy damage was inflicted to the Stasko Property at Adams & Carbon Sts. High winds and bitter cold temperatures hindered firefighting operations. Also on this corner during the winter of 1977 a fire destroyed a double family frame dwelling in similar conditions.

January 12, 1922 - Apartment House An apartment building on the O'Donnell property at Centre & Main Sts. was heavily damaged by fire

June 9, 1938 - Young Mansion. Defective wiring caused a fire in a wing of the Young Mansion on Windy Hill, Drifton Section of Hazle Twp. The Freeland Fire Department was the primary fire protection agency for this area at this time

March 12, 1939 - Hyman Kline Store Fire at the Hyman Kline Store, location unknown, was caused by a defective chimney

April 15, 1941 - Ingram St. Property A fire caused heavy damage to a double family frame dwelling at 708-710 Ingram St. and damaged several other adjacent properties

February 12, 1952 - Chestnut St. Apartment At 9:25 pm a fire was discovered in a four family apartment building at 718 Chestnut St. The structure was completely destroyed. Citizens and Fourth Ward firefighters had assistance from White Haven, Drifton Scotch Hill, and Diamond # 2 of Hazleton

October 12, 1963 - Marchetti Furniture Store Shortly after 11:45 pm on this Saturday night, Police Officer John Barna noticed flames in the vicinity of the Marchetti Furniture Store located in the 400 block of Center St. First arriving firefighters found the third floor and cockloft area heavily involved in fire. Assistance from other fire departments was immediately summoned due to the high winds and close proximity of near by structures. Responding to the incident were fire companies from Foster Twp., Drifton Scotch Hill, White Haven, and the Diamond #2 of Hazleton City. Before the fire was declared under control the Marchetti Furniture Store and the adjoining Marchetti Plumbing and Heating Company were heavily damaged. This was the first of three major fires on the Northside with the second being the MMI Preparatory School occurring on 6/10/06 just over the borough line in Foster Twp.

July 31, 1964 - Davis Feed Mill At 5:30 pm on a Friday evening fire erupted at the Davis Feel Mill Property at Birkbeck Sts. Responding firefighters found visible fire coming from the feed mill and a section of the adjacent Ira Berger & Sons Lumber Co. Fire in the lumber yard was quickly extinguished but the four story feed mill was quickly involved in fire. Mutual aid was received from Foster Twp., Drifton Scotch Hill, White Haven, Butler Twp., and Diamond #2 of Hazleton City. The fire was declared under control at 7:55 pm but firefighters remained on the scene throughout the night. The feed mill was destroyed and the lumber yard damaged in one of Freeland's most spectacular blazes

February 23, 1974 - A & P Store Fire The Freeland A & P Store was 75' x 100', four stories high, and represented one of Freeland's largest buildings. At 4:40 am on a cold Saturday morning with northerly wind gusts of up to 35 mph, Freeland's most disastrous fire began. A piece of aluminum siding torn free by the wind began striking a 7,200 volt electrical line located on the northwest corner of the structure. Interior structural members ignited and burned unnoticed for an estimated thirty minutes before being discovered by neighbors and police officers. To the first arriving firefighters the fire appeared to be localized. However unknown to anyone the fire had already advanced into the top floor and was spreading in the interior of the structure. Before a sufficient fire flow could be established the entire fourth floor and roof became fully involved. Quickly the fire spread downward and engulfed the entire structure. With the danger of structural collapse, firefighting operations had to be suspended to reposition fire apparatus and within forty minutes of the initial alarm the front brick wall collapsed into Front St.

Upon the collapse of the remaining walls, radiant heat ignited five additional buildings in the immediate area. Also electrical service lines in the immediate area either burned or came falling into the street. This created the additional problem because there was now no electrical service to the pumping operations of the Freeland Municipal Authority. With water supplies becoming low and the fire still out of control, mutual aid was called for all tankers within a twenty mile radius.

The flames eventually began to subside and the fire was declared under control at 9:30 am with final extinguishment not being completed until Tuesday morning. Destroyed in the fire were the A & P Store and a three family home located to the west of the store. Four additional buildings were damaged, eleven people left homeless, and damage estimates ran as high as $700,000, the highest loss in Freeland history. A total of twenty three fire companies and over 250 firefighters were involved in the firefighting operation with over one million gallons of water being needed for final extinguishment.



 

February 1, 1977 - 120 Main St., Drifton Section, Hazle Twp. At 10:00 am fire claimed the life of an elderly man at 120 Main St., Drifton, Hazle Twp. The body was discovered after the fire had been extinguished. Damage to the dwelling was confined to the first floor area. The Freeland Fire Department provided fire protection to this area at the time under contract with Hazle Twp.

May 27, 1980 - Jeddo Shops At midnight this date, fire was reported at the Jeddo Shops Complex of the Jeddo-Highland Coal Co. The site was an abandoned coal equipment repair and maintenance facility that was located in Jeddo Borough. The Freeland Fire Department is the primary fire protection service to this municipality. Upon arrival two of the three buildings were fully involved and a third building had just ignited. This building became a major concern since it contained approximately five tons of ammonium nitrate which is used for blasting operations. With an inadequate hydrant system, fifteen tankers from the Mutual Aid system were utilized to provide water for extinguishment. Despite this problem, the third building was saved. Department personnel were on the scene for three days prior to being released

February 25, 1983 - Freeland Dress Co. (Folon Recycling) Fire With the Department beginning its 100th. Anniversary, a rapidly spreading fire feeding on a heavy fire load destroyed this paper and plastic recycling operation on Birkbeck St. The fire easily equaled the A & P Store and ironically occurred almost nine years to the day later. The fire resulted in the response of thirty-four pieces of fire apparatus and over two hundred firefighters from thirteen companies in the Suburban Mutual Aid Network.

The plant was of mill type construction and measured 65' x 150' and was three stories high. The alarm was received at 7:22 pm and was heavily involved upon arrival. The fire spread was so rapid that Fire Chief John "Jeff" Teliho struck a fourth alarm by 7:27 pm.

A large building with a large fire load and heavily involved in fire was not the only problem facing firefighters. The building was surrounded by major exposure problems. Multiple residential properties, some as close as fifteen feet away, as well as the Berger Lumber Complex (which survived the Davis Feed Mill Fire in 1964) and the Freeland Municipal Authority compounded the situation.

Just twenty minutes after the initial alarm, walls began to collapse multiplying the exposure problem. Special calls were placed for additional engine companies and tankers to assist with the dwindling water supply. At the height of the fire ten engines worked to supply a 4,000 GPM fire flow, 1000 GPM of which came from tankers

The fire was brought under control at 11:32 pm although it was not finally extinguished until the following Tuesday. The fire used more water than any other fire in Freeland history as the municipal supply was taxed to its limit. Only though training and an effective mutual aid system was damage held to the building of origin. Exposure damage was limited to several broken windows along with some minor water and roof damage

December 22, 1986 - 1136 Birkbeck St. Apartment Building A large three story apartment at the corner of Birkbeck & Alvin Sts. was destroyed during this 12:14 pm blaze just before the holiday season. A second alarm assignment was struck bring mutual aid units from surrounding communities to assist in combating this stubborn fire. The fire started when a resident was working on a go cart in the basement which ignited gasoline in the area. Two firefighters were removed from the building through windows when their exit route was cut off by the fast moving fire

July 31, 1987 - 628-630 Centre St. This early Friday evening fire began in a Laundromat that occupied the first floor of this commercial structure. Previously occupants of the building were a pizzeria and Feissner Hardware. Firefighters arrived to heavy fire conditions throughout the building with exposure problems within 3 feet on both sides. Chief John 'Jeff" Teliho immediately struck a third alarm which brought seven additional engine companies and an additional truck company plus numerous support vehicles to the scene. A deluge gun was utilized to control the heavy fire until interior attack lines could be placed into operation and the building ventilated. Four 5" supply lines were utilized and the two ladders trucks accessed both the fire building and the exposures. Due to the training of the firefighters and the tactics employed, the fire was confined to the building of origin and was eventually repaired

October 17, 1995 - 418 Centre St. During the predawn hours the Freeland Fire Department was dispatched to a working structure at this occupied personal care home. The building was a three story wood frame structure with identical exposure buildings on both sides within proximity of three feet. Deputy Chief Cal Herring arrived to find the rear of the structure heavily involved in fire with a report of occupants trapped. Engine 53 operated by Engineer William Kuklis, was first arriving and took a position in the rear. Captain Joseph J. Stepansky and Firefighter Richard Lindsey advanced a line to the rear and began fire attack in order to obtain entry. Firefighter Darrin Herbener and Foster Firefighter William Feissner III advanced a second hand line to protect the exposures. At this time the electrical service line to the structure burned through dropping to the rear of Captain Stepansky and Firefighter Lindsey. Undeterred both continued to battle the fire in an attempt to access the building in order to perform a search for the trapped occupant. Ladder 57 arrived on scene and took a position in the front of the structure. Immediately the main ladder was placed in operation with the truck team ventilating the roof. Captain Stepansky and Firefighter Lindsey controlled the fire sufficiently to gain access to the building and then located the occupant who they removed to safety. A third alarm was struck which dispatched ten additional engine companies, two additional truck companies, and numerous support units. The exposure buildings received only minor damage and the fire building was repaired and reoccupied. Captain Stepansky and Firefighter Lindsey were both cited for their courage in placing themselves in harm's way in order to perform the most heroic and dramatic rescue from fire in the history of the department

June 23, 1996 - Tornado Early on this Saturday evening threatening storm clouds gathered to the northwest of the borough and within minutes a tornado touched down. It began on Schwabe St. and advanced thorough the business district of the community. Trees were uprooted, roofs torn off, and utility wires ripped from their poles in one of the most unusual and unfortunate events in the history of Freeland Borough. Luzerne County Emergency Management Agency was immediately dispatched and coordinated the control, mitigation, and clean up effort. A full third alarm assignment was dispatched with companies assigned to sectors in order to evacuate those who buildings were damaged and to control any hazardous conditions. The magnitude of the storm could be witnessed in the 400 block of Center St. where an automobile was lifted off the ground by the twister and placed on a 100 square foot piece of roofing material that was ripped off on a building 500 ft. away

October 22, 2000 - Rustic Lounge 300 Block Centre St. On this brisk Sunday Morning a structure fire was reported in this former tavern. First arriving engine and truck companies arrived to find a working fire in the second floor with exposure buildings in close proximity on both sides. An aggressive interior attack was made on the fire which confined the fire to the area of origin with some extension to the third floor. Numerous hand lines were placed in service, three 5" supply lines were utilized, and the roof ventilated during the fire attack. Chief Mark "Sam" Sosar utilized a third alarm assignment to control the fire

September 27, 2002 - Krause Building Birkbeck & Schwabe Sts. During a tropical storm the Freeland Fire Department along with a third alarm assignment battled not only this fire but the elements of heavy rain and high winds. This building, one of the oldest in the borough, was utilized as a hotel, boarding house, and apartment building and was heavily involved in fire upon the arrival of both engines and the truck company from the department. A defensive exterior operation was utilized employing two aerial master streams and numerous ground based deluge guns. The building was heavily damaged in a previous fire on 2/16/01 which for the safety of the firefighters eliminated the possibility of an interior attack

January 3, 2005 - Freeland Senior Citizens Center 701 Chestnut St. On this mild winter evening the Freeland Fire Department was dispatched to the an automatic fire alarm at the Senior Citizens Center. The first arriving engine company encountered smoke conditions at it responded from the fire station a block away. The smoke was so heavy that the firefighters advancing the initial attack line had difficulty in locating the access doors to the structure. Due to heavy interior fire which created a large overhaul operation a second alarm was struck

January 19, 2005 - 928 Pine St. For the second time in a month a working structure fire occurred in the borough. During heavy snow squalls the Freeland Fire Department along with a second alarm assignment battled this stubborn and smoky fire. Due to the construction of this residence the fire found numerous void spaces which spread the fire quickly throughout. Firefighters aggressively attacked this fire until it was determined that the building was no longer safe. Two residential properties within close proximity were monitored with firefighters and hand lines in place

February 1, 2005 - Apartment Building 502-506 Washington St. Freeland firefighters were dispatched to its third working structure fire within a month and upon arrival had heavy fire from a first floor apartment. Due to reports of occupants still inside the building the initial attack line was placed to control the open stair well to protect firefighters searching the floors above. All searches proved negative and the fire was held to the apartment of origin. A second alarm assignment was utilized in containing the fire and performing overhaul

May 2008  - Apartment Building 702 Center St. Motorists on Center St. noticed smoke coming from this three story apartment building at the corner of Center & Front Sts. First arriving units found smoke conditions from a second floor apartment and placed hand lines in service to contain the fire. The fire was contained to the apartment of origin

 

 

May 1, 2009 - FFD along with the first alarm structure box was dispatched at 0420 hrs for a working structure fire at 1135 Centre St. Upon arrival Chief Joseph Stepansky requested two additional alarms due to amount of fire and the proximity of the exposures. The truck arrived first and forced entry to the first floor. The engine crew from 53 advanced a 2" attack line but it quickly became evident that the fire was intesifying at a rapid rate. Command (Chief Stepansky) quickly changed strategy and went defensive on the fire building utilizing 2 elevated master streams, the midship gun on 53, and a ground monitor. The truck crew entered into the exposure on 1137-1139 Centre St. and performed a primary search and reported heavy fire conditions on the second floor. All personnel were assigned to extinguish this fire which was caused by the collapse of the 1135 structure onto this building. 5 engines, two trucks, two heavy rescues, one light rescue, and a rit team performed fire suppression duties along with a truck and engine covering the Northside from FFD station

October 15, 2015 - During the early morning Luzerne County dispatched the first alarm commercial box for a working structure fire in the 700 block of Main St. Chief Joseph J. Stepansky arrived on scene and reported a 3 story vacant combination mercantile/residential building with heavy fire showing from the second and third floors and extension into a two story building. Also he upgraded the box to a second and then third alarm (manpower). The engine arrived on scene grabbing a hydrant at Centre and Main Sts. with the crew immediately entering the exposure to remove three occupants, one of which was confined to a wheelchair on a smoke filled second floor. Deputy Chief Richard Lindsey and his daughter Sara performed this rescue assisted by the Chief and bystanders. The engine crew then placed the step gun into service attaching the main body of fire with the rest of the crew advancing a 2" smooth bore attack line into the exposure. The truck arrived taking the opposite side of the structure and immediately began ladder pipe operations to protect the other exposure which was the US Post Office, Freeland Branch. The rescue engine arrived as the second due and as assigned reported to the rear laying in from a hydrant on Washington and Front Sts. This crew supplemented by the Valley rescue crew advanced the 3" set back line and another 2" smooth bore attack line into the exposure building. Foster engine laid from a hydrant at Main and Sabol Sts. and provided exposure lines to the Post Office and supplied the FFD truck. Hazle truck arrived as the second due truck and assumed the second due position in the rear with some skillful driving, placing the tower pipe in service being supplied by the rescue engine. McAdoo truck arrived third due and reported to the front and established their ladder pipe onto the fire building. At this point with almost 4000 GPM being placed on the fire and the water system at its max and the well system not replenishing itself due to the low water table a decision was made to establish a tanker operation to supply both engines in the front with the rear operation remaining on the municipal system. White Haven and Sugarloaf engines established drop tank operations and tankers from Lower Luzerne and Upper Carbon Counties supplying the scene from two fill sites, one from the new HCA system line and the other from a rural pond. Wright truck, Hazleton City Truck, and Valley engine were assigned to staging. Also on scene were Freeland Boro Government Officials, FPD, DPW, Freeland Code Enforcement, Freeland Municipal Authority, PSP Troop N Hazleton, and L&L Rehab Services. The building was demolished after the fire due to its unsafe condition. Chief Stepansky expressed his appreciation to all the firefighters, BLS/ALS units managed by Freeland Northside BLS, and others who supported the effort. Also special thanks is extended to The Garlic Knot Restaurant and other local businesses donated food and beverages to the firefighters. HFD graciously washed all the attack lines that were utilized in the fire attack which saved a considerable amount of time and energy by FFD firefighters. Again this exhibited the effort expended by all the personnel to successfully control this incident. Photos of the incident can be viewed on the web sites of both Bill and Frank Barr.

December 11, 2014 -During the predawn hours Luzerne County dropped the full box for a reported structure fire in the 600 block of Vine St. in the Hill Section of the Boro. As firefighters were responding to the station they knew they would have work since the smell of smoke was evident at the station. The engine and truck responded with full crews during a never ceasing snow fall. Chief Joseph J. Stepansky arrived on scene of a three story double block home with fire in the rear and the residents accounted for from one half but the the residents from the other half unaccounted for. The engine grabbed a hydrant from Vine and Walnut Sts. and the crew led off with a 200' 2" smooth bore attack line extinguishing the exterior fire and then advancing into the rear entrance. The truck arrived and the crew split with the interior crew going through the front door to initiate a search while the exterior crew worked on maneuvering the truck into position to fly the main stick to the roof while dealing the overheads and then throwing ground ladders. The engine crew worked their way through the fire on first floor while the truck completed the search in this area. Both crews then advanced into the second floor to find fire working down the hall way from the rear bathroom. While the engine crew battled the fire the truck crew made their way into the bed rooms to search. Upon entry in the front bedroom they found the victim. Lieutenant Michael Radjavitch, firefighters Zack Montone and James Darvell were the crew who were then assisted by Valley Regional Asst. Chief Kevin Tarapchak who was leading the rescue crew from that department. Hazle Tower arrived on scene and was assigned to open the roof, throw more ground ladders, and assist with interior operations. White Haven was the second due engine and laid a supply line from a hydrant at Vine and South Sts. and stretched multiple lines into the other side of the double block and then the attic. An additional 200' 2" and 200' 2 1/2" smooth bore preconnects were stretched from FFD engine into the fire side of the structure. Manpower was supplied at the scene by McAdoo truck, Fairview engine, Sugarloaf squad, Weatherly rescue, with RIT duties being performed by West Hazleton. Freeland Northside BLS along with Medic 11 transported the victim to LVH were he was pronounced. White Haven BLS and Medic 26 also responded along with Freeland DPW and Police. PSP N Hazleton investigated the cause. FFD extends its deepest condolences to the family and friends of the victim. Chief Stepansky expressed his appreciation to all the firefighters who worked diligently during this incident. He also announced a critical debriefing with be held at the station on 12/12/14 at 1900 hrs. Photos can be viewed at Bill Barr's web site.

October 15, 2015 - During the early morning Luzerne County dispatched the first alarm commercial box for a working structure fire in the 700 block of Main St. Chief Joseph J. Stepansky arrived on scene and reported a 3 story vacant combination mercantile/residential building with heavy fire showing from the second and third floors and extension into a two story building. Also he upgraded the box to a second and then third alarm (manpower). The engine arrived on scene grabbing a hydrant at Centre and Main Sts. with the crew immediately entering the exposure to remove three occupants, one of which was confined to a wheelchair on a smoke filled second floor. Deputy Chief Richard Lindsey and his daughter Sara performed this rescue assisted by the Chief and bystanders. The engine crew then placed the step gun into service attaching the main body of fire with the rest of the crew advancing a 2" smooth bore attack line into the exposure. The truck arrived taking the opposite side of the structure and immediately began ladder pipe operations to protect the other exposure which was the US Post Office, Freeland Branch. The rescue engine arrived as the second due and as assigned reported to the rear laying in from a hydrant on Washington and Front Sts. This crew supplemented by the Valley rescue crew advanced the 3" set back line and another 2" smooth bore attack line into the exposure building. Foster engine laid from a hydrant at Main and Sabol Sts. and provided exposure lines to the Post Office and supplied the FFD truck. Hazle truck arrived as the second due truck and assumed the second due position in the rear with some skillful driving, placing the tower pipe in service being supplied by the rescue engine. McAdoo truck arrived third due and reported to the front and established their ladder pipe onto the fire building. At this point with almost 4000 GPM being placed on the fire and the water system at its max and the well system not

November 13, 2015-During early evening Luzerne County dropped the first alarm box for a reported structure fire in a 3 unit row home in the 600 block of Walnut St. Captain Paul Malloy arrived on scene and reported a working fire in the rear of one of the units with extension into a 2 family duplex. Chief Joseph J. Stepansky arrived on scene, assumed command, and requested a second alarm response. In one of the units an elderly woman remained along with her disabled son who was visually impaired. The Chief entered the structure and assisted the woman and removed the male through heavy smoke conditions. The women again attempted to reenter the structure in an attempt to remove her pet cats but was stopped by the Chief. The truck arrived on scene first to reports of potential individuals in the middle unit which was vacant. The crew forced entry and entered the unit to initiate a search. The engine hit the hydrant at Centre and Walnut Sts. and laid a 5"supply line into scene. The engine crew split into three working groups with one group deploying the step gun to protect the exposure, another group to advance a 2" attack line into the end unit where the fire begin, and another advancing a 2" attack line into the middle unit to support the truck on the search. Heavy fire conditions met these firefighters as they advanced into the units. Upon arrival of more FFD firefighters another 2" attack line was advanced into the exposure building where a room has became involved in fire. This group quickly extinguished this fire and opened up the walls to check for extension. FPD cleared this building of occupants upon their arrival on scene. Foster Engine arrived on scene stretching a 5' supply line from the hydrant at Washington and Front Sts. and supplemented the supply to Freeland engine and advanced a 1 3/4" attack line. Hazle tower arrived as second due truck and positioned on Washington St. and sent a group to the roof to perform vertical ventilation. White Haven engine arrived and stretched a supply line from Washington and Chestnut Sts. and advanced multiple lines into the rear. Valley engine took the exposure position stretching a 5" supply line from the hydrant at Pine and Walnut Sts. advancing an attack line into the exposure building. Rescue crews from Hazle and Valley send crews to the building to assume the attack from FFD personnel who were rotating out of the building. West Hazleton initially assumed RIT but were pressed into the rotation and were replaced by Fairview and Mahanoy City. The building presented considerable challenges due to the numerous void spaces, balloon construction, and unobstructed floor joist and wall bays which provided for quick fire spread. All crews worked diligently to contain the fire which also spread to the attic but as floors and ceiling collapse occurred, were removed for a defensive attack. During the defensive mode of the operation 2 ladder pipes, 3 wagon pipes, 2 single inlet monitors, and a 2 1/2" were utilized to achieve extinguishment. Crews then entered to extinguish any remaining fire. As is FFD SOP when large flow is utilized at an incident, after the one hour mark a tanker task force is responded to supplement the municipal system. Again this stage of the operation occurred at Washington and Main Sts. where a drop site was established utilizing Dennison engine and numerous tankers standing by and a fill site with Sugarloaf engine in the Drifton Section of Hazle Twp. off of the HCA system. Weatherly engine and Lake Harmony truck stood by at station and handled an AFA at 531 Centre St. during the incident. Wright Twp. tower staged during the incident and sent manpower to scene. L&L Fire Co. provided rehab with Freeland Northside and White Haven assuming BLS and Medic 11 & 26 providing ALS. Freeland PD, code enforcement, council members, and mayor were also on scene. The investigation revealed the fire was started from a cooking incident. The Freeland YMCA initially provided shelter until the American Red Cross arrived to develop a plan for the displaced residents. Chief Stepansky expressed his appreciation to all who responded to the assist in the effort and also to those individuals who provided refreshments. Additional photos available on Bill Barr's  and Frank Barr's web site.

Dec 18th 2015: During the early morning Luzerne County dispatched the first alarm commercial box for a reported structure fire in the 400 block of Centre St. Captain Paul Malloy arrived on scene and reported a working fire in a 2 1/2 story combination restaurant/apartment building attached to a 2 story garage storage building. Chief Joseph J. Stepansky arrived and assumed command. The engine was first on scene and deployed the step gun to extinguish the exterior fire. The crew then split with half proceeding to the second floor to perform a search of the apartments and the other half advancing a 2" hose line through the first floor into the rear of the structure. The truck arrived with a full crew and assumed their assigned responsibilities with the interior crew proceeding into the structure to support the engine and the exterior crew throwing ground ladders and going to the rear second floor deck where there was fire running the void spaces. Another 2" line was placed in service by the rescue engine crew in this area and extinguished this fire. A 2" line was placed in the rear of the restaurant building while another one was advanced into the attic space of the rear storage garage where fire was advancing. Due to no flooring the attack in the attic was difficult with joint unit crews utilizing the ceiling joists as support to advance to the seat of the fire. Two walls also needed to be breached in this advance. A total of three firefighters encountered partial fall through when they were making this difficult advance in heavy smoke conditions. Once the visible fire was contained a saw was utilized from the interior to open up the plank construction and extinguish the hidden fire. Foster engine laid a 5' supply line from  Fern and South Sts. and advanced a hose line to the rear alley to protect exposures. Hazle Truck was second due, took the front of the structure, and vented the roof on the storage garage building and assisted in opening up the interior. White Haven engine and Valley rescue crews also worked throughout the buildings on fire attack and overhaul. Freeland Northside Community BLS was assisted by various BLS/ALS units in providing rehab and EMS support. West Hazleton provided RIT.  Freeland Municipal Authority and FPD along with code enforcement assisted. An investigated was conducted led by FPD Chief Tony Harris with assistance from PSP N-Hazleton and FFD Chief Joseph J. Stepansky and Deputy Chief Rich Lindsey. Through their efforts a suspect was arrested on various charges including arson and is incarcerated in Luzerne County Prison. Chief Stepansky expressed his appreciation of the effort of all the first responders and the team work once again exhibited

Nov 24th 2016: During the early evening hours right after Thanksgiving Dinner Luzerne County struck the first alarm assignment for a structure fire in the 600 block of Walnut St. As units arrived on the scene there was no fire located despite county receiving multiple calls reporting a working fire. A corrected address of a fire in the 600 block of Hemlock St. in the Hill Section was received and the response was revised. Chief Joseph J. Stepansky arrived on scene of a combined commercial/residential 1 story building with a full basement and confirmed a working fire. The building formerly housed the Tip Top Restaurant which for many years was a Freeland culinary landmark and an attached single family residence. The engine laid a 5" supply from a hydrant at Hemlock and South Sts, while the rescue along with Foster engine performed a 5" split lay from the hydrant at Hemlock and School Sts. The truck took the first due assignment and had the address. Upon arrival the engine crew split advancing 2"  lines to the rear to attack the fire through a failed garage door and through the front door. The truck performed forcible entry, ventilation, and engine support. A joint rescue/utility crew advanced another 2" line off the rescue into the basement of the building but encountered the first floor collapsing as the attack was made. First floor crews were also dealing with floor collapses and command transitioned into defensive operations. Hazle Truck arrived and assumed second due truck responsibilities. Crews were supplied to the attack from Hazle Rescue, White Haven engine, and Valley rescue and engine. Weatherly was assigned RIT in the rear and West Hazleton had the front RIT assignment. The chief requested a second alarm for manpower and backfilling stations. McAdoo truck, Dennison engine, and Harwood engine covered the Northside. A tanker task force was requested and staged in the event additional water sources were needed. With the collapse of the first floor into the basement overhaul and exposing hidden fire became a challenge for the crews. The deluge gun from the rescue was utilized in the basement with the truck crews working the roof to expose fire in the attic. Command then made the decision to utilize foam to achieve final extinguishment. The challenge of further collapses due to compromised structural components impeded progress throughout the incident. L&L Fire Co. provided rehab services at the scene. Freeland PD, Code Enforcement, Authority, and Council were all on location. Freeland Northside BLS was the lead EMS provided with support from other regional units. PPL provided electrical service disconnect. PSP N Hazleton, FPD, and Chief Stepansky are investigating for cause. Photos available on both Bill Barr's and Frank Barr's SmugMug sites. The Chief expressed his appreciation to all who worked throughout this difficult incident

Jun 17th 2017: During the early morning hours Luzerne County dispatched the full structure box to the 400 block of Centre St. The truck, engine, rescue, and utility responded in that order to find a 2 1/2 story commercial/residential structure in a tightly backed mercantile district with smoke showing from the rear of the second floor. Chief Joseph J. Stepansky arrived and assumed command of the incident. The truck took the front of the structure flying the main stick to the roof with the crew working on ventilation and primary search along with utility control. The engine hit the hydrant at Centre and South Sts. laying a 5" supply line to the entrance of the rear alley with its crew advancing a 200' 3" set back line which supplied a 200' 2" attack line with a 1" smooth bore nozzle. The crew advanced the line through an entrance off the alley and up the stairs to a rear kitchen where they found a fully involved room with fire extending into the hallway. They quickly extinguished the fire and started, along with the truck, opening up the walls and ceiling to check for extension. The rescue hit the hydrant at Centre and Luzerne Sts. laying in a 5" supply line and advancing another 2" line through the second floor front window to back up the engine line and then check the attic for extension. Hazle tower arrived and also set up in the front extending their bucket and performing horizontal ventilation to the attic space. Foster engine and Valley Regional rescue arrived with their crews assigned to relieve FFD crews on overhaul. The Chief struck the second alarm for manpower to staging due to the difficult working conditions caused by the high humidity. Weatherly rescue provided RIT services and West Hazleton crews were assigned to staging. White Haven BLS and Medic 26 provided EMS coverage with L&L Fire providing rehab. FPD and PSP N Hazleton supported the scene. American Red Cross were on scene to assist with the displaced residents. Utilities were disconnected by PPL and Freeland Municipal Authority. Chief Stepansky expressed his appreciation to all the crews who worked diligently to contain the fire to the room of origin and prevent extension to any other building in the extremely tight block.  Thank you to Bill Barr, Bill Kuklis and Hazleton News1 for use of their photos.

Dec 24th 2017: During the most holy and joyous days of the year the Department responded to three incidents on the Day before Christmas. The first was a local box during the early morning when an elderly woman was locked out of her home in the 300 block of Ridge St, The truck with a full crew and Freeland Northside BLS responded and gained access to the residence without causing any damage. Due to the cold conditions the woman was evaluated by the BLS crew before she returned to her home. Then during the late afternoon Luzerne County dispatched the full structure box for a reported stove fire in the 1000 block of Schwabe St. Chief Joseph J, Stepansky responded on dispatch and reported smoke showing as he crested the hill and had county notify all units of a working fire. The truck, engine, rescue, and utility responded in that order along with the remainder of the box. Hazle Twp. firefighter Justin Zoshak arrived on scene with the Chief and used the 30 lb. ABC Extinguisher from the buggy to hold the fire in check which was rapidly extending from the kitchen to the remainder of the first floor of the 2 1/2 story double block home. The truck crew arrived and split per assignment with the exterior crew laddering all four sides of the building with the interior crew following the engine who were advancing a 2 1/2" line into the kitchen through a rear door. The engine quickly extinguished the fire room while the truck searched the first and second floor coordinating ventilation with the outside crew. The rescue stood by at the hydrant at Schwabe and Yale Sts. in the event the 5"supply line laid by the engine needed to pumped. Foster engine crew was assigned to advance a line into the exposure side from FFD engine in the event there was extension in the building. Hazle tower took the second due truck assignment and assisted with extinguishment and overhaul. Valley engine replaced their rescue which was out on a mechanical and entered the scene from the west with their own hydrant in the event it was needed. White Haven engine and Hazle rescue sent crews to the scene to assist with a considerable overhaul assignment. Weatherly rescue had the RIT assignment. PPL, Freeland PD, Code Enforcement, and Municipal Authority all responded to scene.  American Red Cross worked with the victims of the families to assist with shelter. PSP N-Hazleton and Chief Stepansky conducted the investigation of cause. As the crews were servicing the rigs another call was dispatched for an oil burner malfunction in the 600 block of Walnut St. The truck returning to station arrived first and found a heavy smoke condition in the street followed by the rescue. The engine and utility responded from station and crews from all rigs entered the 2 1/2 story double family block with meters and assigned tools. The oil heating system was removed from service and the residents were instructed to have the system serviced by a licensed contractor. Finally the apparatus was backed into the station and repacked and the firefighters went home to their families to spend what was left of Christmas Eve with their loved ones. The Chief complimented the professionalism of all the responders who helped these unfortunate families during what is supposed to be a happy season 

Mar 9th 2018: Just 16 hours after the structure fire in East Side Boro Luzerne County dispatched the box for a reported structure fire in the 900 block of Pine St find a 2 1/2 story double block home with a working fire in the attic. The truck and engine responded in that order with the engine establishing  a 5" supply line from the hydrant at Pine and Chestnut Sts. The engine advanced a 2" smooth bore attack line and along with the truck crew advanced into the attic space and extinguished the working fire. Another crew advanced a 2" smooth bore attack line into the other side of the attic and extinguished some extension into that space. The rescue crew arrived and advanced a 2 1/2" line off the engine to provide exposure protection if needed. Hazle truck arrived and assumed second due responsibilities with White Haven engine taking the rear assignment by stretching a 5" supply line from a hydrant from Washington and Chestnut Sts. and then advancing a manifold and supply line down the alley to provide rear support. Crews were rotated with firefighters supplied by Hazle rescue and Valley rescue along with Hazle truck and White Haven engine. Extensive overhaul was needed in the plank constructed residence. Weatherly Rescue assumed the RIT assignment. Freeland Northside BLS and Medic 11 were on scene along with American Red Cross, Freeland PD, and the Department of Public Works. Chief Joseph J. Stepansky conducted the investigation and found a space heater near some furnishing caused the fire

Feb 24th 2019: During the morning Luzerne County dispatched the first alarm box for a reported structure fire in the 800 block of Ridge St. with confirmed entrapment. Chief Joseph J. Stepansky responded from his residence which is half block away and reported a working fire in a 2 1/2 story double home with heavy involvement in the rear first floor. He made entry into the structure and perfromed a quick search of the first floor front rooms with no victim found. The engine arrived first with its own hydrant in front of the residence with its interior crew of Deputy Chief Rich Lindsey and Engineer Stan Quantance making entry to attempt to reach a second floor rear bedroom where the resident was reported to be. The truck arrived and split crews with the exterior crew throwing ground ladders and performing fire attack with a 2" hand line in the rear of the structure. The interior crew attempted VES but were driven back by the fire now blowing out a first window and preventing access. While the engine was performing their search the first floor developed pre flash over conditions. With zero visability and intense heat Deputy Lindsey called a may day. The truck crew pushed into the rear door with a hand line in an attempt to provide relief for the search team while Chief Stepansky entered the front door and provided voice communications so firefighters could advance towards him. Luzerne County Communications was in constant contact with the fire fighters and assisted in providing a their location. The Chief then  located both of them, assisted in removing them as all three rolled out of the front door and down the nine steps onto the sidewalk. At this point the entire first floor was involved in fire. Additional FFD personnel along with the remainder of the box arrived and assumed the fire fight which now extended into the second floor and attic. The engine during the attack supplied (2) 2" handlines, a 2 1/2" handline, and a 3" line to the step gun which was utilized to hold the fire while interior crews were preparing to reenter. Hazle Twp. tower was assigned as second due truck and worked the interior. Foster engine laid a 5" supply line from Ridge and Walnut Sts. providing additonal supply to the engine and advancing a line into the exposure. White Haven engine laid a 5" supply line from a hydrant at Ridge and North Sts. and advanced two lines into the structure. The rescue arrived and stood by at the hydrant at Centre and Chestnut Sts. Valley Regional rescue crew performed fire suppression in the fire building. West Hazleton Fire performed the RIT duties. Hazleton City Fire Department Engine 5 assumed the stand by assignment for the Northside. Additional alarms were struck for manpower for support and overhaul as the there was extension throuhgout the structure. McAdoo, Weatherly, Beaver Meadows, Wright Twp, Sugarloaf Twp., L&L Rehab, along with Medic 11, Medic 26, and Freeland Northside BLS also responded. Unfortunately a resident perished in the fire and was located in the first floor rear where there was heavy fire involvement prior to the first FFD units arriving. Our prayers and sympathy our extended to his family. PSP N Hazleton and Freeland PD along with Chief Stepansky are conducting the investigation. Freeland Streets Department and Code Enforcement and the American Red Cross were also on scene. Thank You to Bill Barr for some of the fire ground pictures.



Mutual Aid Responses

-- Compiled by Cal Herring

The Freeland Fire Department responds to incidents outside of the Freeland and Jeddo Boroughs to assist during fire and emergency incidents. Some of the more noteworthy responses are listed below:

1959- Balas Warehouse, Foster Twp.

1964 - MMI Preparatory School, Foster Twp.

1967 - Griffith Lumber Yard, Foster Twp.

1967 - Hotel Fire, White Haven

1967 -Hardware Store, White Haven

1971 - Methodist Church, White Haven

1973 - Drifton Shops, Foster/Hazle Twp.

1973 - Jeddo #5 Breaker, Foster Twp.

1979 - Ugly Mug Restaurant, White Haven

1984 - Jeddo #7 Breaker, Hazle Twp.

1984 - Fearnots Fire Station Fire, Foster Twp. 

1987- 400 Block Main St., White Haven, 7 building destroyed

1989 - Genetti Dinner Theatre Fire, Hazle Twp.

2014, Damenti's Restaurant Fire, Butler Twp.

2016, Blakslee Inn, Tobyhanna Twp. Carbon County

2016, Multiple Residential Structure Fires, Weatherly Boro

2016, Residential Structure Fire with entrapment, Foster Twp.

2017, Residential Structure Fire, Hi-Tor Section, Butler Twp.

2018, Residential Structure Fire, Drifton Section, Hazle Twp.

2018, Commercial Structure Fire, Foster Twp.

2018, Residential Structure Fire, Drifton Section, Hazle Twp.

2019, Residential Structure Fire, West Hazleton

2019, Residential Structure Fire, Butler Twp.

2019, Multiple Building Structure Fire, Foster Twp.

2019, Industrial Plant Fire, Hazle Twp.

2019, Residential Structure Fire, Foster Twp.

2019, Commercial Structure Fire, Butler Twp. 

2020, Hotel, Convention Center Fire, Pocono Twp., Monroe Twp

 

 


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