Hoax calls to Fire Service cost more than £2m a year

Hoax calls to the Fire and Rescue Service are costing the Assembly more than two million pounds a year, SDLP assemblyman for East Derry, John Dallat has revealed.

The figures for the last three years are:

2008/09 2,824,430

2009/10 2,693,000

2010/11 2,064,699

Total for 3 years £7,582,129

Mr. Dallat was given the information in a written answer from the Minister for Health, Social Services and Public Safety.

“Given the chronic cash shortage in the department it is disgusting that more than £2m per year is wasted on malicious or hoax calls by mindless people who don’t care. Not only is this a serious crime but it is placing at risk other people who may be in need while appliances are answering hoax calls,” he said. “Surprisingly the NIFRS do not hold information on prosecutions for offences relating to false alarms but leave this entirely to the PSNI. I would want to see the closest collaboration between the two emergency services, in a concerted campaign to trap those who are making hoax calls and I would hope that the best use is being made of new technology which vastly improves the chances of trapping those involved.

“Awareness campaigns should reflect the consequences for those who get kicks out of calling out the emergency services to hoax calls. The message should be loud and clear, that they will be caught and they will pay for the burden they have imposed on the hard-pressed tax payers who have to fund this menace at such a level.”