Former firefighter admits hoax calls

FORMER firefighter Michael Ford has admitted making hoax calls to non-existent blazes was last night condemned by ex-colleagues and fire chiefs.Michael Ford's hoax calls led to fellow firefighters wasting their time and potentially putting genuine victims at risk.

FORMER firefighter Michael Ford has admitted making hoax calls to non-existent blazes was last night condemned by ex-colleagues and fire chiefs.

Michael Ford's hoax calls led to fellow firefighters wasting their time and potentially putting genuine victims at risk.

"We felt bitterly let down by his actions,'' said Chris Turnock, Suffolk's Assistant Chief Fire Officer.

Ford had been in charge of a dozen part-time firefighters at Saxmundham fire station, and Mr Turnock said he had been a "trusted friend'' to many of the team.


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Former retained firefighter Ford, 33, of Seaman Avenue, Saxmundham, appeared before Lowestoft magistrates yesterday and admitted three charges.

One incident happened at Peasenhall on Christmas Day last year, when he falsely raised the alarm of a potential fire in an electricity sub-station. He also admitted making a hoax call about a fire at Spindrift Hall, Sibton, near Peasenhall, saying he was the occupier.

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The third charge related to an incident when he reported a chimney fire at the Golden Key pub, Snape, purporting to be the landlord.

The case was adjourned until October 23 for pre-sentence reports, when his defence will offer mitigation for the offences. He was granted unconditional bail.

Magistrates warned they were keeping all the options open, and he was told the fact he was a firefighter was an aggravating factor.

He could face a fine of up to £2,500 or up to three months in prison for each offence, up to a maximum of six months in total.

Ford was in charge of the Saxmundham fire station, which has about a dozen personnel, all retained. He had been there for several years and was a junior officer, the fire service said.

"This is what makes it doubly hurtful to us. We had put him in a position of trust and confidence. We felt bitterly let down by his actions," said Chris Turnock, Assistant Chief Fire Officer for Suffolk County Fire Service.

"He's let us down badly."

The fire service had carried out an investigation, but had not completed it because of his resignation, he said.

"This individual's actions should in no way reflect upon the station," Mr Turnock added.

"His own crew would have gone out, but they would have had no idea this was happening. To them, this was another call."

Paul Woolstenholmes, Suffolk Brigade Secretary for the Fire Brigades Union said offences of this kind were viewed "dimly" by firefighters.

"This is something we frown upon. Every time we are out on a 'mickey', the next time a real call comes in it's putting a delay on it."

"While we are out chasing these sort of things, the real shouts could come in. Someone could be in real problems," he added.

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