The London Fire Brigade (LFB) has urged the public to only call 999 in an emergency after publishing a list of common prank calls on April Fool’s Day (April 1). The Brigade’s 999 Screening Officers challenged more than 1,630 false 999 calls last year, from callers asking for the time to reporting a broken fingernail, to avoid wasting resources and allow firefighters to focus on real incidents.
The LFB has since urged the public to consider whether they are using 999 responsibly and said it is a criminal offense to deliberately make fraudulent calls, which screeners are trained to identify.
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Here are examples of fake 999 calls over the past year:
Caller reports broken fingernail
A caller reporting there was a spider in his room
A caller phoning to say his Facebook was blocked
A caller asks for the time
A caller who said there was a snake in their bathroom
A caller reporting spilled milk on the floor
A caller reporting worm-like creatures in his home
A caller who dropped his passport in the trash
The examples above exclude calls from people who may have mental health issues. Assistant Commissioner for Operational Resilience and Control Pat Goulbourne said: ‘Most calls to our control room are from people with genuine concerns and we will always be there in an emergency, but we do call to the few who deliberately choose to abuse 999.
“Calls made to our control room when there is no real emergency distracts our officers from responding to real 999 calls and could prevent crews from quickly reaching someone who really needs our help. Help us protect capital and use our resources wisely by not wasting time on 999 calls.
“Don’t be afraid to contact us if you have a real emergency, but we just ask people to consider whether they are using 999 responsibly.”
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