Myrtle Beach firefighters have responded to almost 1,000 false alarms this year

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WBTW) – Myrtle Beach Fire Rescue says it’s responding to several false alarms each day, when firefighters could be responding to real emergencies.

“We’re in a record breaking year right now. We’re probably going to go well over 15,000 calls which we’ve never done,” said Lt. Jonathan Evans. That’s why Myrtle Beach firefighters are trying to lower the number of false alarms they respond to by working with local businesses.

Lt. Evans said about 12% of the calls they receive each year are false alarms from businesses. Myrtle Beach firefighters responded to almost 2,000 false alarms last year and have already responded to almost 1,000 this year. Lt. Evans says they geared up and suited up for each one. “To add those extra calls like that that could be prevented, that’s just extra time that’s taken out of our day to do training, to do other calls, more important calls,” he said.

Most false alarm calls come from businesses such as hotels, restaurants and banks. Lt. Evans says firefighters have even responded to several false alarms at certain businesses. “Every month it seems that there are 5 or 6, but we have to treat those calls as an emergency because to us they are. It could be a real fire. We don’t know until we get there.”

According to Evans, fire alarm, sprinkler, or security system malfunctions cause most false alarms. The fire department has therefore revamped Operation Fire Safe. It’s a program where Myrtle Beach firefighters visit businesses, and make sure all their fire safety equipment is working correctly and that employees know how to use it. “[We’ll tell them] you’ve had this many false alarms. The system’s not working like it’s supposed to. That’s a danger to our community and whoever’s staying there,” said Evans.

Any businesses that make more than four false alarm calls in one year will be fined. If you would like to participate in Operation Fire Safe, contact Lt. Jonathan Evans with Myrtle Beach Fire Rescue.