Warwickshire Fire and Rescue Service is warning residents not to endanger lives by making hoax calls, following incidents in the county over recent days.
Despite the coronavirus pandemic, hoax calls have been reported, one of which explained that someone was trapped inside a house on fire when in fact no such incident was in progress.
While some false alarms with good intent have been raised, the hoax calls potentially put crews at risk by increasing their contact with other members of the community and taking away resources from where they are needed most.
Fire control operators are able to challenge caller they suspect may be a hoax, giving the caller the opportunity to confirm whether this is the case.
However if the caller persists the police will be informed and they may be prosecuted or face a fine of up to £5,000.
Even if the caller’s identity is restricted, the number the call is made from is known by the operator and all calls are recorded.
If the hoax caller persists, their mobile or landline number can be cut off.
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, added: “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.”