FIREFIGHTERS have blasted malicious callers who wasted vital time by sending busy crews to bogus incidents.
Fire engines from Wigan station were dispatched to three hoax call-outs in the space of 48 hours on Saturday and Sunday where there was actually no fire on arrival.
The incidents, which saw crews sent to addresses across the borough, were particularly galling as Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service (GMFRS) faced an extremely busy weekend with several major incidents as well as responding to storm damage.
Fire chiefs are now warning residents not to make hoax calls and say they will not hesitate to involve Greater Manchester Police (GMP and take people who persist in dialling fire stations maliciously to court.
GMFRS Wigan borough manager Steve Sheridan said: “Hoax calls cost lives. A fire engine cannot be in two places at one time.
“If we are responding to a hoax call it means we may be delayed in responding to a life threatening emergency.
“This weekend saw our service particularly busy. We were involved in many incidents relating to the weather, as well as a number of fires across the county, and hoax calls can prevent our crews getting to genuine incidents.
“We monitor patterns with these types of calls and we won’t hesitate to involve the police if we feel it necessary, which could lead to prosecutions.”
Firefighters at Wigan station said the hoax calls were particularly concerning as it is the first time in a while that this sort of incident has occurred.
A crew member said: “We thought malicious calling was something that had died off over the years but for some strange reason it returned and we had three of them.
“Making malicious calls to the emergency services is something of the past. We want to protect the public and resources are required for real emergencies.”
Anyone with information about malicious calls should inform police using the non-emergency number 101.