Emergency services across the region have been forced to act in an effort to curb prank calls being made to fire stations, after Nottinghamshire Fire and Rescue reported a staggering 20,676 false call-outs since 2016.
In 2020 this figure reached 3,374 with 108 classed as ‘malicious’ – meaning a prank call has been made.
Meanwhile 937 of the calls were classified as being of ‘good intent’ – a well-meaning call which does not need fire service assistance.
Another 2,329 were recorded as being a consequence of faulty technology, such as fire alarms that automatically notify emergency services.
A spokesperson for Newark and Sherwood Fire and Rescue emphasised that these calls were taking away “valuable resources” from other incidents.
Station manager Leigh Holmes said: “Unfortunately, each year we continue to see over 100 malicious false alarms or hoax calls which can take valuable resources away from other incidents, increasing our time to respond and possibly endangering life.
“All our calls are recorded and in the case of a hoax call, the details can be passed to the Police for prosecution.”
With the intention to reduce the volume of false call outs Nottinghamshire Fire Service has teamed up with Derbyshire & Leicestershire Fire and Rescue at the end of 2018.
The aim was to reduce false call outs by collecting additional information from the public to establish if they were legitimate.
In 2018 malicious false call outs hit a peak of 4,580 – but since the new strategy was implemented, that figure has dramatically fallen.
In the first year of the alliance, the fire department witnessed a drop of 644 false call outs.
The station manager said: “Since December 2018 Nottinghamshire Fire and Rescue Service in conjunction with our Tri-Service partners, Derbyshire & Leicestershire Fire and Rescue Service, have adopted a new procedure for automatic fire alarms calls.
“This involves challenging Alarm Receiving Centres or Fire Alarm Monitoring Organisations to gather additional information from the occupier to determine if our attendance is required.
“This has seen a reduction in the number of false alarms we attend caused by automatic alarm systems, enabling our crews increased availability to attend incidents and carry out other duties such as Safe and Well visits in our community.”
Nottinghamshire Fire and Rescue have stressed that they do not want to discourage residents who need their assistance from calling 999.
A spokesperson for Nottinghamshire Fire and Rescue said: “If you do come across a suspected fire we encourage you to call 999, we would much rather be called out by mistake, then be too late or for a fire to grow meaning additional resources are needed.
“I would also like to ask local residents to review their own fire escape plan and their night-time routine.
“Close internal doors before going to bed, keep escape routes clear and a phone within easy reach should you need to call us.
To find out more information visit www.Notts-fire.gov.uk
By Elliot Ball