False Alarms Count Remains High

The latest NFPA Fire Analysis and Research Division report covers 2010 false alarm activity: a total of 2,187,000 responses, up 0.4 percent from 2009.

The good news in the NFPA Analysis and Research Division's report covering 2010 false alarm activity is that the "malicious mischief" category -– pulling a fire alarm as a prank, in other words –- fell again to 163,000 such calls, the lowest total in more than 20 years. Malicious calls are only 7.5 percent of the total 2,187,000 responses to false alarms by U.S. fire departments, according to the report, which is based on an NFPA survey of departments.

At 992,000 in 2010, unintentional calls are the largest category at 45.4 percent of the total. This category includes activating an interior alarm accidentally and also includes carbon monoxide detectors. System malfunctions, at 708,500, were the second-largest category at 32.4 percent, and third largest was other false alarms (such as bomb scares), at 323,000 (14.8 percent).

The total 2,187,000 responses were up 0.4 percent from the total in 2009.

A table included in the report shows that the 2010 total was the third-highest annual total for false alarm responses during the past 23 years. False alarm responses have topped 2 million every year since 1998, with the high for a single year since then being 2,241,500 in 2008, it shows.

The report lists the 2010 total for all fire calls as a record 28,205,000, broken down this way:

  • Medical aid: 18,522,000
  • False alarms: 2,187,000
  • Fires: 1,331,500
  • Mutual aid: 1,189,500
  • Hazmat: 402,000
  • Other hazardous condition: 660,000
  • Other: 3,913,000

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