Sadly, in the last week we have received a number calls, some false alarms with good intent, but some have also been hoax calls. One of which reported that people were trapped inside a house that was on fire. On arrival, it was clear that there was no fire, and no-one trapped. By making hoax calls, especially in this current climate, means that you are not only endangering the lives of the crew called to attend that incident by increasing their contact with other members of the community, but you are also taking away our resources from where they are needed the most.
If our Fire Control Operator suspects that the call is suspicious, the caller will be challenged, which means that they have an opportunity to confirm that it is a hoax call. If the caller persists, the Police will be informed. This means that you could be prosecuted or face a fine of up to £5,000.
For clarity, even if you have caller identity restricted, the telephone number the call is made from is instantly known by the operator and all calls to the fire service control room are recorded. If the hoax caller persists, their mobile or landline number can be cut off. Given the current climate, this could have a detrimental affect on how you communicate with family and friends. So please don’t waste our time or yours and certainly do not risk lives by misusing our control room or fire crews.
Talking about hoax calls, Warwickshire Fire and Rescue Services Group Manager, Neil McElvenny said:
“It’s really disappointing to see people making hoax calls, especially at this time, but not completely unexpected with the closure of schools and businesses. However, like all blue light services, we’re doing our best to deal with the impact of the Coronavirus, which means that we are working hard to ensure that we have enough firefighters available to assist the community when they need it. To achieve this, we are trying to reduce community contact as much as possible. Unfortunately, being sent to places where people live where there no emergency is not ideal for the residents or our crews, so please think and perhaps put your extra time to better use. You never know when you may need us and we would never want to risk the lives of our community attending a hoax call, when someone else needed our help.”
Warwickshire County Councillor Andy Crump, Portfolio Holder for Community Safety said:
“Hoax calls are not only a waste of valuable time and resources, but they also endanger lives. With the current pandemic, the fire and rescue service are taking all the necessary steps to ensure that firefighters are kept safe and appliances remain on the run. By making hoax calls you are putting our crews and other residents at risk, taking away valuable resources from those who urgently need it. If you are caught, you could be prosecuted, fined or both, so why take the risk!”