A 16-YEAR-OLD boy was arrested for making a hoax fire call at a Huddersfield school.
Now we can give an exclusive glimpse behind-the-scenes at West Yorkshire Fire And Rescue Service headquarters to find out how the malicious callers get found out.
The statistics speak for themselves.
A few years ago West Yorkshire firefighters were dealing with thousands of hoax calls a year.
Now that figure has dropped to around 1,100 a year – and over the last six months there were just over 100 in Kirklees.
But why the dramatic fall?
In short, the growth of high technology.
Now once the call is made, the caller’s phone number flashes up on the operator’s screen.
Most have done the jobs for years and can often sense if it is a hoax and will challenge the caller, telling them the call is being recorded and will be used in evidence.
The phone line often then goes dead with the hoaxer scared off.
If they are persistent hoaxers, the fire service has an agreement with mobile phone operators and the phone will be cut off.
The fire service is always keen to prosecute.
If a hoax call is made in Huddersfield – say a serious road accident – and the fire engines dispatched from the station on Outcote Bank, it means it will take longer for an engine from a neighbouring station to attend a genuine emergency.
Often fire engines from Brighouse or Elland have to deal with fire calls to the Fixby, Birkby and Fartown areas.
Every second lost could mean the difference between life and death.
The teenager was arrested by police after a fire alarm was set off at Holmfirth High School – and a call then made to the fire service.
The teenager has now been charged with criminal damage and making a false call.
Insp Mark Trueman from the Valleys Neighbourhood Policing Team said the boy’s actions could have put other people’s lives at risk.
He said: "We will prosecute those who make false calls. Although some may think a prank call is funny, it is not so funny to those who are suffering as a consequence of their actions.
"Young people may not fully comprehend the impact of their behaviour which is why we want to stress just how dangerous making a hoax call can be.
"We will always take these kinds of incidents very seriously and will prosecute anyone making false calls."
Area Manager Ian Bitcon, who is responsible for operations response for West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service said: "It’s important to stress that any hoax call or deliberate activation of a fire alarm has serious and far-reaching consequences.
"It can result in an area being left without essential fire and rescue cover and, if another more serious incident occurs, it means firefighters from outside the area must be called in.
"We hope this arrest will act as a deterrent to those responsible for such pranks because the message is that such behaviour will not be tolerated."