False alarms account for 10 percent of Connecticut town's calls

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Friday, January 18, 2013

RIDGEFIELD, Conn.—False alarms make up more than 10 percent of the Ridgefield Fire Department’s call volume, according to a report from the Ridgefield Press, a newspaper located here.

Still, firefighters have to treat the false alarms like they’re real.

“We’re trained to prepare for the worst in every call,” fire Capt. David McDevitt said in the report.

The department responds to some alarms that simply malfunction, but more often the false alarms are triggered by steam from a shower or smoke from burnt toast. These scenarios occurred 371 times in 2010 and 459 times in 2012, the report said, figures that comprise about 12 percent of total calls for fire and medical emergencies.

Chief Heather Burford said many of the false alarms come from automated systems, and responding to these false alarms represents, in some ways, a risk to the public.

“When we’re tied up on an automatic alarm that is not an urgent situation, then we’re not available for some other call,” Burford said. “And that is always our big fear.”