Fire crews called to thousands of false alarms and hoax calls each year
20:00 15 March 2016
Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service is urging people to dial 999 responsibly after more than 3,400 hoax and false alarm calls were received last year.
Figures released under the Freedom of Information Act revealed that 3,404 calls were received for unwanted fire signals, false alarm incidents from automatic fire alarms that go straight through to the fire service, and hoax calls.
The figure represented an increase from 3,366 from the previous year.
In light of the figures, deputy chief fire officer Mark Sanderson said: “Hoax calls endanger the lives of others – if our fire crews are attending a hoax call they are then not available to attend a real emergency in that area. It is illegal to make a hoax emergency call and we investigate each and every one.
“If the Fire Service 999 Control Operator suspects a call is suspicious, the caller will be ‘challenged’ by stating: ‘This call is being recorded. If it is a false alarm we will inform the Police. Do you wish to continue?’”
A Suffolk County Council spokesman added that a false alarm is not known to be false until firefighters arrive on site.
Of the 3,404 calls reported, fire crews attended 2,412 of them.
Mr Sanderson added: “Hoax calls cost the taxpayer money, but worse than that they may cost people’s lives! Eventually, one of these calls could coincide with a genuine emergency and this could delay our response.”