Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service has issued a stark warning after being falsely alerted to a house fire through Facebook.

Crews in Bolton found themselves on a wild goose chase after a Facebook update sparked fears that two people were trapped in a house in Breightmet. A concerned caller dialled 999 after a friend on the social networking site said two people were trapped upstairs just before midnight on the day of the incident.

Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service said it received the call at 2340 and kept the caller on the line while fire crew raced to the scene, which turned out to be a false alarm. Chairman of Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service Councillor Paul Shannon said: "People should not under any circumstances try and alert us to a fire or emergency incident in any other way than dialling 999. It is absolutely crazy to do anything else. The message from us is always get out and dial 999. We don't want to get into the situation that people are genuinely trapped in a house fire and expect a status update to alert us. It's a dangerous approach and not something I'd advocate."

A statement from Greater Manchester FRS said that the service takes malicious calls to 999 extremely seriously. It will now investigate the origins of the call and establish the identity of those involved.


Posted November 9 2010