Dealing with hoax calls

Types of incidents

Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service attends in the region of twenty-five thousand incidents per year.  However, our Command and Control Centre (Control) receives in the region of forty-five thousand ‘999/112’ calls per year but some of these can be repeat calls or calls that have a non-emergency element.

Control initially mobilise to each incident with a specific response which is called a Pre-Determined Attendance (PDA). The PDA to an incident will vary considerably dependent on many considerations, such as:

  • Location.
  • Type of Incident.
  • Type of Property (eg High Rise/Hospital).
  • Crewing (personnel) required.
  • Equipment required.

Hoax calls cost lives

Every day the Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service control room receives hoax calls, reporting incidents that do not exist. These calls commit fire engines to incidents that do not exist, thus placing genuine callers lives in danger, as fire cover in the county is reduced.

A life was lost in a fire in Southampton when the nearest fire engines were attending a hoax call. In a fire situation seconds can cost lives. It also puts the responding firefighters at risk whilst travelling to hoax calls.

Calls from landline phones give Control Staff immediate access to the number and location of the phone, all calls are digitally tape-recorded. In the case of hoax calls these details can be passed to the Police for prosecution. Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service (HFRS) will issue text messages to mobile telephone callers making such a call warning them that, if they persist, their mobiles can be cut off. Should multiple hoax calls be received from mobiles, HFRS Control staff will contact the network provider and ask them to cut the mobile off so that it will not be used to make any calls.