WIGAN’S fire chief says someone will die because of the hoax callers endangering lives almost every week in the town.
A Freedom of Information request revealed 98 hoax calls were recorded by 999 staff in the past two years, instructing fire crews to attend incidents across the borough that were simply made up.
Wigan’s fire chief has said that unless it stops there could be a fatality – and is now warning the hoaxers they will face prosecution.
The figures also found that there were 952 false alarm call-outs in the borough during the same period.
Borough commander Steve Sheridan said: “There is always a very real risk that a hoax call could result in the death of somebody in a genuine emergency because our crews are attending an incident that they believe to be real.
“I and Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service take hoax calls very seriously and it is a criminal offence which we will always push for prosecution in.
“We can trace all calls and we will find you and inform the police.
“We also have agreements with large phone providers who will effectively bar the SIM card and make them inoperable.
“This works on pay-as-you-go SIMs. The individual will then lose all of their credit as it cannot be used again.”
Mr Sheridan says he and his firefighters regular attend schools to warn pupils of the dangers.
He said: “We are pleased with the work we have done in schools over the past year or so.
“We go in to warn young people about the consequences of making such calls.
“On attendance, if the perpetrator is a child under the age of seven or eight fire crews will talk to their parents.
“But if it is anybody older, the police will get involved as it is a criminal offence which can result in a £2,000 fine and up to five years in prison.”
GMFRS is involved in the prosecution of a man last month who made a hoax call that cost emergency services an estimated £7,000.
Several 999 teams were scrambled to an area of woodland in Haughton Green by a caller who claimed to have seen a man on fire jump into the River Tame at around 8.20pm on Sunday April 6.
A police helicopter and specialist officers from Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service and North West Ambulance Service also aided the search – but it was called off around 90 minutes later when investigators realised the alert was a hoax.
David Rafe Jenkins, 41, of Victoria Park, Offerton, has been charged with giving a false alarm of fire to a person acting on behalf of a fire and rescue authority.