Fire departments provide invaluable services to communities nationwide. They respond to all types of emergency situations involving fires, explosions, rescues, medical emergencies, hazardous conditions, natural disasters and false alarms. They also respond to nonemergency service calls and good intent calls. Often, what is described to dispatchers does not reflect the actual incident type; nevertheless, fire departments are trained and prepared to respond to a wide variety of situations.
To understand the fire department’s full role in a community, this topical report profiles fire department run activity as reflected in the 2019 NFIRS data. In 2019, fire departments across the U.S. responded to 28,534,400 calls as reported to the NFIRS. This count reflects a 6% increase in the number of calls (26,880,800) reported to the NFIRS in 2017, the latest year in which these data were examined.
While “fire” is part of the department name, only 4% of runs made by fire departments involved fire. Runs in the EMS and rescue, good intent, false alarm, and service call incident type categories accounted for 92% of all reported runs. Specifically, 65% of all fire department runs were categorized as EMS and rescue. Good intent calls (11%), false alarms and false calls (8%), and service calls (7%) were the next most prevalent incident type categories, followed by fire. This percentage distribution of runs by major incident type category is comparable to that of the runs reported to the NFIRS in 2017.