Fire Department Calls

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A new study reveals that calls to fire departments are increasing, but at least one in 10 of those calls is false, according to the National Fire Protection Association. Does this trend hold true in Rockford?

On average, there's a structure fire in Rockford every 35 hours. There were 249 total last year, but you may be surprised to find out the majority of calls to Rockford fire departments have nothing to do with fires.

"Probably around four percent of calls are actual extinguishment of fires,” says Rockford Fire Department Division Chief Bill Beaman

Nearly 80 percent of calls deal with emergency management services, rescues, dive teams, which shows how versatile fire departments have become.

The rest of the calls are false alarms. Some deal with pranks, and the Police Department does investigate those calls, but the majority of false alarms are because of malfunctioning home and commercial alarm systems.

"We do respond to a lot of automatic alarms, and most of them deal with malfunctions. There’s a lot of human error in there too, people setting off their own systems, not putting in codes right," explains Beaman.

The spike is attributed to an increase in the number of people and businesses with fire or smoke detection systems, which doesn't bother Beaman at all.

"We're real happy that they have alarm systems," says Beaman.