Home Local News REPORT: 16 structure fires among 461 calls for Rockingham Fire Department

REPORT: 16 structure fires among 461 calls for Rockingham Fire Department

Crews attack a fire from two directions at the old Sara Lee plant office on Mill Road on July 16, 2021.
RO file photo

ROCKINGHAM — Of the 461 calls responded to by the Rockingham Fire Department in 2021, 18.2% (84) were in the noon hour, according to the annual report presented to the City Council last week by Chief Harold Isler.

The second-most common time for a call was during the 3 p.m. hour, with 69 responses, the report shows. For all other hours, there were 24 or fewer calls.

“That’s something that is never consistent,” Isler told the Council. “We never know when a call is going to come in, it varies from day to day.”

While the winter months may seem the most likely, the department responded to the most (53) during June of last year. That number also changes year to year. The average number of calls was 38 per month.

Broken down by day of the week, the highest number of calls were on a Friday for the third consecutive year.

The total number of calls was down 62 from the previous year, according to Isler.

Of the 16 structure fires, Isler said five were cooking related, six were from electrical failure, four had an undetermined cause, and one was started by a child playing with a lighter.

In addition to fires, the department also responded to 152 wrecks, 28 “good intent” calls, 36 outdoor fires and one bomb threat, according to the report.

There were 18 times the department had two or more simultaneous calls and 17 turn-in alarms where all personnel were called out.

The department also saved an estimated $1,898,500 in property of the $2.74 million that was exposed, according to the report.

Late last year, the department added a new truck to its fleet that was purchased with funds from the American Rescue Plan.

According to the report, the department conducted 210 fire inspections on all businesses, industries and other buildings in the inspection area, except for single and multi-family dwellings.


Isler said the department was also hampered with its fire prevention efforts, with only 20 programs, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Like the Rockingham Police Department, which had its annual report delivered in February, the fire department emphasizes training of its employees.

In the letter at the beginning of the report, Isler led with saying that full-time firefighters completed 5,797 hours of training in 2021. Part-time employees also completed 852 hours.

Heather Bellamy, the department’s first full-time female firefighter, completed more than 654 hours, the most of all employees. Fellow female firefighter Deeanna Ward was second with 619.

Lt. Joe Brown, who is the leader of the B-Shift, was third with 573 hours, followed by C-Shift Lt. Austin Parker with 570, Engineer Josh Webster with 549, Engineer Josh Watikins with 509 and Lt. Keith McPhaul with 500.

Two of the new hires, Austin Sweet and Savannah Magyar, completed more than 250 hours each.

The following firefighters also received certifications last year:

  • Assistant Chief Vernon McKinnon – Fire Officer 1
  • Capt. Joe Cahoon – Fire Officer 2
  • Lt. Keith McPhaul – Water Rescue, Fire Officer 1
  • Lt. Austin Parker – Water Rescue
  • Engineer Josh Watkins – Driver Operator, Firefighter 1 and 2
  • Engineer Heather Bellamy – Water Rescue, Driver Operator
  • Engineer Josh Webster – Water Rescue
  • Savannah Magyar – Firefighter 1 and 2
  • Deanna Ward – Water Rescue, Firefighter 1 and 2

In the report, Isler said he is requiring at least 20 hours of training per month for full-time employees and 36 hours per year for part-timers.

Isler thanked the City Council for its continued support.


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Managing Editor William R. Toler is an award-winning writer and photographer with experience in print, television and online media.