More than 30,000 false alarm calls were made to the fire brigade services between 2007 and 2011 according to Mayo Fine Gael Deputy John O’Mahony.
Mayo County Council has indicated to Deputy O’Mahony that while it charges €1,000 per call out, other councils charge as much as €1,500 per emergency response, outlining the drain on resources that hoax calls are having. The malicious intent call figures were obtained by way of a Parliamentary Question to the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government, Phil Hogan.
The hoax calls are broken down by malicious and good intent, with the number of malicious intent calls totalling 9,149 over that period.
According to Dep O’Mahony, at a conservative estimate, the cost of these “stunts by pranksters” falls just short of €10 million over five years.
“What’s more, the number of malicious intent calls has been increasing over the years with 1,664 hoax calls made in 2007; 1,894 made in 2008; in 2009 that figure stood at 1,773; in 2010 it was 1,916; and in 2011 1,902 hoax calls were made. Figures for 2012 are not yet available.
“In the larger urban areas, such as Dublin, where 7,840 false alarm calls were registered, nearly one in every two, or 3,822 calls, were malicious in nature. This not only has a devastating impact on the financial resources of the local authorities that are being targeted but means that when a genuine call comes in there may be a delay in getting an emergency response team to the scene where it is really needed.”
These figures come on the back of figures obtained recently by Dep O’Mahony on the number of hoax calls being made to the ambulance and coast guard services.
“I have called for penalties to be put in place for repeat offenders of this damaging and dangerous practice which would act as a deterrent for future shenanigans and allow the emergency services to get on with the challenging job of saving lives,” he outlined.