A warning is being issued by East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service after it received a hoax call during an extremely busy period.
Yesterday (Thursday, August 13) the service’s Mobilising and Communications Centre dealt with hundreds of calls, due to the severe weather conditions.
During this period, at 1.15pm a call resulted in an fire engine being sent to Lewes Road, Upperton, in Eastbourne, which later transpired to be a malicious call.
Duty Officer Richard Fowler warned that those responsible could face prosecution.
He said: “Hoax, or malicious calls cost lives and we treat these incidents extremely seriously.
“We were particularly busy, due to the number of weather-related calls at this time and this hoax call diverted a fire engine away from people who urgently needed help.
“The perpetrator should consider that their actions could result in either their friend, or relative, being affected.
“Hoax calls require fire engines and crews to be sent, wastes time, money and resources.
“We would like to remind the culprits that this is a criminal offence and if prosecuted you may face a large fine, or even a custodial sentence.
“All calls to ESFRS are recorded and the telephone number used to make the hoax call is displayed.
“Any call to East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service, where the emergency call handler suspects a hoax, or prank, will be challenged with the following statement: “If this is a false call, we are taping your voice and we will be passing this to the police, do you wish to continue?”
“A text message will also be sent to any phone that we believe a hoax call has been made from.
“The message will inform the caller that East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service will liaise with their phone service provider to disconnect and cancel their phone contract, should any further malicious calls be made.
“ESFRS will work with Sussex Police to prosecute hoax call offenders.
“During this busy periods when mobilising staff and crews are working exceptionally hard the last thing we want to deal with is a malicious false alarm.”
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