With the school summer holidays now underway for most, London Fire Brigade has released a startling list of hoax calls in a bid to drive down non-emergency 999 calls.
One caller rang 999 wanting a Big Mac, another phoned to say their mouth was on fire after eating a hot chilli, yet another said his pants were on fire.
The Brigade said that when its control officers are dealing with such calls, this could cause delays in dealing with genuine emergencies.
New figures show they received 6,820 malicious hoax calls to its control centre last year – almost 20 calls a day.
The Brigade's control officers challenged 5,504 of these calls, which were deemed to be hoaxes, and were therefore not attended by firefighters.
"Please talk to your children about the repercussions of making hoax calls and let them know that someone could be in genuine need of help whilst they’re wasting emergency service time."
However, the Brigade was quick to point out that children should be taught to always call 999 in a genuine emergency.
Ten weirdest hoax calls
The Brigade has released a list of the ten most bizarre calls it has received:
1. Caller said he was eating a hot chilli and his mouth was on fire
2. Man saying his pants are on fire
3. Caller claiming there's a fire at the Statue of Liberty
4. Caller complaining of a barking do
5. Woman calling to say she is scared of spiders
6. Caller stating she is scared of a dead cat outside
7. Person wanting a Big Mac
8. Children calling because they want to see firefighters
9. Caller asking for the Queen
10. Caller saying he's the Prime Minister and reporting a fire at 10 Downing Street
The Brigade said that it is doing all it can to challenge hoax callers.
Its mobilising system alerts control officers if several 999 calls are made from the same number. This can lead to phones being cut off and in worse case scenarios, the police are involved, which can lead to prosecutions.
The Brigade also operates a 'call challenge' policy, whereby suspected hoax callers are asked if they are making a hoax call and are given the chance to admit to it and hang up.
The Brigade's control officers are also able to view the location of people calling from mobiles, making it easier to determine whether false locations are being given. Calls made from landlines are also traceable.