False alarms remain big part of Lisbon’s firefighting business

LISBON – Nearly half of the fire calls within village limits last year were false alarms, according to 2013 report issued by the Lisbon Fire Department.

According to the report submitted to Village Council by fire Chief David Lewton, 41 of the 83 calls within village limits were false alarms. This is an increase percentage-wise from 2012, when 40 of the 101 calls (40 percent) were due to false alarms.

The chief reasons are malfunctioning smoke and heat detectors and fire alarm systems, mostly at government agency buildings. Lisbon is the seat of county government.

The issue had become such a problem in 2012 that council considered charging for false alarms because each call costs between $500 to $1,000, depending on the number of firefighters who respond. Lewton said at the time such a law would be difficult to enforce and false alarms are part of the firefighting business.

The Lisbon Fire Department also contracts with Center and Elkrun townships to provide fire protection for those areas. The fire department responded to a combined 225 calls last year, down slightly from 229 in 2012.

Center Township had the most calls, at 99, of which 25 were false alarms. A total of 43 fire calls were in Elkrun Township, but only three were false alarms. Of the 225 calls received last year, 69 (31 percent) were false alarms.

The fire department handled a total of 12 structure fires, down from 19, and responded to a combined 44 fires, the same as 2012, which includes vehicles, campers, grass fires and trash fires.

The fire department also responds to accidents, vehicle liquid spills, downed and arcing power lines, water in basements, smoke investigations, and open burning complaints.