A Rio Rancho firefighter helps members of multiple agencies battle a fire involving multiple structures and vehicles in Corrales earlier this month. Courtesy of Rio Rancho Fire and Rescue Department.

Call volume has steadily increased for Rio Rancho Fire Rescue Department, and 2020 was no exception, according to the department’s annual report from last year.
In 2020, the department responded to more than 11,500 calls, or an average of more than 31 calls a day. That number is a 12 percent increase from 2016, when firefighters handled almost 10,300 calls.
Fire Chief Paul Bearce said that despite the COVID-19 pandemic and restrictions, fire and rescue personnel kept working.
“The men and women of Rio Rancho Fire Rescue remained on duty, remained vigilant,” he said.
The department took steps to keep them safe, such as finding an inexpensive, fast disinfectant for ambulances, and the community helped by making and donating masks.
“We had to keep going,” Bearce said. “Our business doesn’t stop.”
According to the report, no members tested positive for the novel coronavirus until October, and there were no documented cases of firefighters getting COVID from patients.
From 2016 to 2020, structure fires decreased from 59 incidents to 36, according to the report, a drop of almost 39 percent.
However, 73 percent of all calls were requests for emergency medical services. Fire accounted for 1 percent of calls.
Another 12 percent of calls involved requests for other types of help, such as changing smoke-alarm batteries or rescuing stuck animals.
Eight percent of calls involved situations that someone believed needed immediate attention but turned out not to be emergencies, according to the report. An additional 5 percent of calls were false reports.
Finally, hazardous material incidents accounted for the last 1 percent of calls.
According to the report, Station 1 on Southern Boulevard handled the most calls, more than 4,700. That station houses two sets of crews due to the call volume.
Station 2 in North Hills and Station 7 in Vista Hills each took more than 2,400 calls. Station 5 in Enchanted Hills handled not quite 1,100 calls, while Station 3 in Rivers Edge saw 750 calls.
There were 130 calls from the Mariposa area. Because the fire station in that subdivision isn’t staffed, crews from stations 2 and 5 responded.
Also, the Insurance Service Office evaluated the fire department’s operations, record keeping, training, water system and emergency dispatch center last year. RRFR maintained its Class 2 designation, on a scale of one to 10, with one being the best.
A Class 2 rating puts the department in the top 4 percent of all fire departments in the nation, according to the report.
“We will always live up to the motto emblazoned on the side of our trucks, ‘Protecting Your Family.’ Our community is our family and that is what we do,” Bearce wrote to close his portion of the report.
To read the full RRFR 2020 annual report, visit rrnm.gov/1628/Annual-Report.