An ordinance passed two years ago in an effort to clip the soaring number of false fire alarms is having its intended effect.
Muskogee Fire Department statistics show the number of false alarms reported in 2011 fell to four-year low. There were no fire-related deaths in 2011, continuing a downward trend from two reported the previous year and three in 2009.
With regard to false alarms, Muskogee firefighters responded to 266 false alarms this past year, down 57 percent from the 618 reported in 2010. False alarms accounted for 12.2 percent of the total incident responses in 2011 and 23.4 percent in 2010.
In 2008, when the department began tracking data with its new software system, firefighters responded to 302 false alarms, 12.9 percent of its total calls for service. That number ticked up 38 percent in 2009, when false alarms made up 16.4 percent of all responses, to 415 and another 49 percent in 2010.
“This helps put our resources where they are needed most,” Muskogee Fire Chief Derek Tatum said, noting the additional benefit of less wear and tear on the department’s equipment. “The emergency response itself puts people in jeopardy, but the biggest issue is apathy among those who live or work in a facility where there are a lot false alarms.”
Tatum said people tend to start ignoring alarms and become less vigilant when alarms continue to sound for no reason.
“Then, they are more likely to get caught up on something they should never have been caught up in,” Tatum said. “The intent (of this ordinance) was to get the facility to take care of their systems so this (complacency) doesn’t happen, and it seems to be working.”
Tatum will present the department’s 2011 Run Activities Profile report to Public Works Committee members when they meet at 4 p.m. today. The information, Tatum said, exposes trends the department uses to predict and plan for future needs.
Assistant Fire Marshal James Ledbetter said the patterns that emerge from the annual analysis help shape educational programs geared toward fire safety and prevention.
Data collected during 2011 show residential fires in Muskogee were more likely to happen on Monday than any other day of the week. They were more likely to occur during the late afternoon and early evening hours in the kitchen or living areas and in structures located in older parts of town.
“Generally, these are happening when people come home and start to cook,” Ledbetter said. “Knowing this information helps us target our educational programs in a way that protects lives and property — the primary target, as always, is (the prevention of) injuries and death.”
A summary of the 2011 report shows the Muskogee Fire Department responded to 2,179 incidents, a decline of 17.4 percent from the 2,558 reported the year before.
The number of fires reported in 2011 increased slightly, up nine, or 2.63 percent, from the 342 recorded in 2010. Fires made up 16.1 percent of the department’s responses.
Rescues and emergency medical services accounted for 54.7 percent of the department’s runs in 2011. The 1,191 calls for medically related calls this past year continues a trend that has tracked downward since 2009, when firefighters responded to 1,341 such calls. There were 1,279 rescue and emergency medical calls reported in 2010.
Hazardous conditions responses accounted for 4.2 percent of the department’s run tally during 2011. Of the 92 calls in that category, 34 — or 36.9 percent — involved electrical wiring or equipment problems. Combustible or flammable spills and leaks were involved with another 21, or 22.8 percent of those calls, while chemical releases, reactions or toxic conditions made up 14.1 percent of those calls.
Reach D.E. Smoot at (918) 684-2901 or email@example.com.
The Muskogee Fire Department’s 2011 Overall Run Activities Profile may be viewed in its entirety at www.cityofmuskogee.com/shell.asp?pg=14.