False Alarms Keep Firefighters Busy - Fox29 WFLX TV, West Palm Beach, FL-news & weather

False Alarms Keep Firefighters Busy

BOCA RATON, FL (WFLX) We haven't had many storms lately.

But when we do, firefighters know they're going to have a busy night.

Palm Beach County's station #55 says they get a fifty percent increase in the number of calls they get on nights when there's thunder and lighting.

"Every call we go on is the most important one to us," said Justin Schainuck, a Captain with Palm Beach County Fire Rescue, station #55.

But in the backs of their minds, they know that when it's sticky, stormy and rainy, there's a good chance they'll get there to find an alarm, but no fire. The answer is in the air.

"The electricity from the lightning transfers through cable lines, telephone lines, which connects all the fire alarms to their monitoring stations," said Schainuck.

Surges can set off fire alarm systems, especially in apartment complexes and buildings. Station #55 estimates that a storm can increase a night's calls from 20 to 30.

That means stormy nights become juggling acts, to uphold the county's policy of leaving no area uncovered.

"We have units coming from everywhere to help us out," said Schainuck.

Firefighters are trapped by their own policy of treating every call the same way. The nightmare scenario: a storm-caused false alarm will take attention from one that needs it.

"We treat every one like it's a true emergency. But we know when we are on these calls, that there's a potential for another call or someone needing assistance."

The Boca Raton Fire Department says they used to send three trucks to an alarm, but when it's stormy, they'll send one so they can respond to many calls at once.

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