independent

Saturday 20 September 2014

Hoax fire calls put lives at risk

JOE LEOGUE

Published 01/08/2013 | 05:26

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POTENTIAL hoax callers to the emergency services have been warned that that are putting lives at risk, as it was revealed this week that fire brigades across Cork city and county attend to an average of 20 false alarms a week.

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POTENTIAL hoax callers to the emergency services have been warned that that are putting lives at risk, as it was revealed this week that fire brigades across Cork city and county attend to an average of 20 false alarms a week.

Statistics released by the Department of Environment show that in 2011, the last year for which such data is available, Cork city and county fire brigades attended 1,006 false alarms, down from 1,187 and 1,173 in 2010 and 2009 respectively.

While the majority of false alarms are calls from well-meaning members of the public, 791 of the 3,366 false alarms over the three years - nearly one in four - were malicious or hoax calls.

Tony Douglas of Mallow Fire Brigade said that while the North Cork unit has not received too many hoax calls of late, the pranks tend to come in spates over a one or two week period. He warned that what some may think of as harmless jokes have serious implications.

"There are consequences to these calls. We had two firefighters crash on their way to a call," he said.

"When Mallow is mobilised we have 12 personnel on call who must be at the station within five minutes of receiving word. When we go out it means our resources are not available to another call that may come in, and we have to send another bridge from another area to it. But we don't know if it's a hoax until we get there," he said.

"This could be on the extreme edge of our area, we could be in Buttevant before we know it's a hoax, and then it takes 15 minutes to get back to Mallow. If there's a genuine call every minute is crucial, be it a fire, a RTA (road traffic accident) or anything.

"Every hoax puts lives at risk. It puts firefighters on the road and then for members of the public our resources aren't available," Mr Douglas warned.

Corkman

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