WILKES-BARRE, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — We all hear and see them in our community virtually every day, fire trucks and first responders responding to fire calls.

Many times, those calls turn out to be false alarms and fire officials across the nation and our region say they have seen the number of false alarms increasing and that’s creating an unnecessary risk to the public and first responders.

Wilkes-Barre Fire Chief Jay Delaney is one of the chiefs in our region and Pennsylvania sounding the alarm and trying taking action to try to reduce the numbers and reduce the risk to the public and first responders.

“At least two million across the United States every year. Here in Wilkes-Barre in the year 2021, we had 577 false alarms,” said Chief Delaney.

Chief Delaney says that 577 times that the public and first responders were unnecessarily placed at risk.

“The traveling public and firefighter safety. Every time there’s a fire alarm that comes in the fire department has to respond with multiple intersections to get to the scene of a call. So the traveling public and firefighters is at risk,” said Chief Delaney.

Chief Delaney says false alarms also place firefighters out of position when actual fire calls come in.

“The 577 times we responded to false fire alarms we were unavailable for those folks who had a real emergency,” said Chief Delaney.

Chief Delaney says the causes for false alarms are many but says poor maintenance of fire alarm systems is a major factor.

“Good maintenance of these fire alarm systems, contractors to cover those detectors heads with a dust deterrent for that to get in there and if folks who live in these buildings and hear constant alarms going off talk to building management and have situation looked into and take corrective action,” said Chief Delaney.

The city of Scranton tracks the reasons for the false alarms.

“Last year we entered a contract with a compliance engine and what they do is track compliance for false alarms reasons for false alarms nuisance alarms fire alarm systems and sprinkler detection systems. We’re making sure they’re always getting their annual test done,” said Chief Delaney.

Some communities including Wilkes-Barre and Scranton have ordinances on the books that levy fines on property owners who repeatedly have false alarms.

Eyewitness News Reporter Andy Mehalshick spoke to fire chiefs of several area volunteer fire departments and they say they have seen an increase in false alarms.

They say their volunteers respond but it creates problems because volunteers can’t always respond to the calls.