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Friday 23 March 2018

Hoax calls put extra strain on fire brigade resources

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Stock picture
Ralph Riegel

Ralph Riegel

Almost 25pc of all calls received by Irish fire brigade services are false alarms.

The revelation came as it emerged that, on average, a hoax call is now being received by fire brigades on an almost daily basis.

Emergency services warned that the cost of responding to hoax calls is placing an inordinate strain on scarce resources.

Each full deployment is estimated to cost around €1,000.

That cost can spiral further if other emergency services are deployed in support.

Dublin now estimates that a malicious or hoax alert is received every 33 hours.

The number of fake calls fielded by Dublin Fire Brigade has risen in every one of the past three years.

This is despite warnings over the cost involved and the impact on manpower resources.

In 2015, a total of 242 hoax calls was received.

Figures for last year are not yet available but are understood to represent yet another increase in malicious calls.

Since 2011, more than 1,500 hoax calls have been received by Dublin Fire Brigade.

Dublin City Council data indicated that the worst period for hoax calls is around Halloween.

However, fire brigades nationwide are also forced to deal with a significant number of false alarms and hoax calls.

False alarms differ from hoax calls in that they are logged as genuine but incorrect alerts from members of the public or fire alarm systems.

The latest figures from Cork City Council revealed that of the 2,783 incidents responded to by Cork Fire Brigade in 2016, 692 were found to be false alarms.

This equates to roughly one in four of all calls.

Cork brigade officials stressed that this figure includes both hoax calls and mistaken alerts whereby members of the public ring the emergency services in good faith without there actually being a fire or crisis.

A significant number of calls are now generated by sophisticated fire alarm systems.

On occasions, these can be overly-sensitive and trigger alerts for a number of different reasons even though there is no actual fire.

"From our point of view, the reality is that once an alarm is triggered and a fire alert is issued, we have to respond," a spokesperson said.

In Dublin, Tallaght annually deals with the highest single number of hoax fire alerts.

Gardaí warned that making such malicious calls is a serious offence.

Irish Independent

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