hoaxHoax calls to West Midlands Fire Service dropped by 13 per cent and fire engines were sent to a third fewer in the first three quarters of 2012/13.

Between April and December 2012, 2,308 malicious calls were received in the WMFS control room - down 351 from the same period in the year before while the service deployed fire crews to 31 per cent fewer hoax incidents.

Councillor John Edwards, Chairman of the West Midlands Fire and Rescue Authority, said: “We have a number of successful initiatives in place to drive down the number of unnecessary call-outs we receive. Hoaxers put the lives of our fire crews and members of the public at risk. It means we send fire engines out, unnecessarily, in emergency mode. 

“Such calls also mean that our life-saving resources can be diverted and tied-up without reason, denying people in genuine need. They disrupt our crucial community fire safety work and training, and place an extra financial burden on our service.”

Sophisticated call-handling technology and a new approach to challenging the information offered by hoaxers means that the service’s control room staff are set to make even further progress in reducing the number of life-threatening malicious calls. 

WMFS’s highly-trained fire control operators only challenge apparent hoaxers if their suspicions are raised. Their professional skills are backed up with one of the most advanced ‘command and control’ systems available, including satellite mapping technology, allowing them to look at historical emergency call data and the origin of calls.

Education about hoax calls features in programmes for thousands of the region’s primary and secondary school pupils, provided by staff and volunteers at Safeside (www.safeside.org.uk). Young visitors are taught how to make a useful and informative 999 call, and discussions are broadened to cover the dangers of hoax calling. 

Posted 14/01/2012 by richard.hook@pavpub.com