Hoax callers distract fire brigade crews

Between June 2013 and June 2014, Warrnambool firefighters attended up to 220 false calls, including 43 calls that were “good intention”.

Between June 2013 and June 2014, Warrnambool firefighters attended up to 220 false calls, including 43 calls that were “good intention”.

WARRNAMBOOL fire brigade responded to more than 200 false alarms in the last year including a “disturbing” number of hoax calls potentially delaying crews from reaching life-threatening emergencies.

Between June 2013 and June 2014, firefighters attended up to 220 false calls, including 43 calls that were “good intention”. 

At least 10 were malicious calls made to distract crews and drain the resources of the station. 

CFA regional director Bob Barry said many good intention calls were made by neighbours who had spotted smoke or flames nearby.

Others were made by residents who had spotted smoke during summer restrictions. 

But hoax callers continue to hound the brigade. 

“We do get malicious-type calls,” Mr Barry said. “They can be kids making prank calls or neighbours. Quite often we have to go to ‘dob jobs’ — a person who might be burning leaves and the smoke is going on to a neighbour’s washing or annoying them,” he said. “If we do get hoax calls it can delay our response to a real call.” 

Hoax calls to emergency services are listed under the summary offences act with offenders facing court. 

Costs per callout vary according to staffing levels at the station. With more than one firefighter on duty callouts cost $399. For a single staff member they cost $296.

Mr Barry said the “classic example” of a false callout was burning toast in aged care residences or universities.

s.mccomish@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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