Audio: 'Terrified' girl of nine in 999 emergency call

PUBLISHED: 18:12 24 June 2008 | UPDATED: 22:22 26 October 2009

To listen to the hoax call again, hover over the image above and click the play button. This recording has been edited to withold personal information.

To listen to the hoax call again, hover over the image above and click the play button. This recording has been edited to withold personal information.

A LITTLE girl petrified and alone dialled 999 after her family home caught on fire. She carefully told the operator her dad was helping her brother who was burnt and she was alone in the street. But this chilling call was a hoax. This week Herts Fire and

Making a hoax 999 call can cost lives

A LITTLE girl petrified and alone dialled 999 after her family home caught on fire.

She carefully told the operator her dad was helping her brother who was burnt and she was alone in the street.

But this chilling call was a hoax.

This week Herts Fire and Rescue Service released to the WHT an exclusive recording of that call, made by the nine-year-old girl.

Fire crews were sent to two different addresses and the call taker was extremely concerned for the youngsters' welfare.

A council spokeswoman said: "When I listened to the call, I was shocked that it was a hoax as it sounded completely genuine.

"Like many people, I imagine hoax calls to be made by groups of people encouraging each other, so would never have guessed that this was not a genuine emergency call."

She revealed nearly five per cent of emergency calls logged last year in the county were hoaxes. But unlike the public perception of youngsters giggling around a public phone box, most calls sound genuine leaving the operators in an impossible situation.

Welwyn county councillor Richard Smith said: "People may think making a hoax call is good fun but it really isn't.

"These sorts of calls put lives and properties at risk so next time anyone is thinking of making a call of this nature, we would urge them to consider the consequences and think twice.

"Lives can and will be lost if fire engines are not available for genuine emergencies.

"If we know that someone is making a hoax call we can contact the service provider and arrange for the phone to be disconnected.

"We will also continue to work with the police to make sure we find out who the culprits are.

"We have a call challenge policy in Hertfordshire which is very successful so we are fortunate that our attendance record to hoax calls is very good.

"However, every time a fire engine attends a hoax call it is a drain on resources and stops us from attending real emergencies or carrying out community safety activities.

"The fire service is not prepared to tolerate malicious callers and will do everything possible to stop it happening."

FIRE control is automatically given the location of any public call boxes or other landlines on receipt of call.

* All telephone numbers are automatically passed to fire control.

* Police are always informed following confirmation of a hoax call.

* Hoax callers will be prosecuted and can get a £5,000 fine, six months in prison, or both.

* Mobile phones will be disconnected following confirmation of a hoax call.

* Fire control always check how many calls have been made from each telephone.

* All calls made to the emergency services are recorded automatically and may be used in evidence.

* Fire/police/ambulance work together to monitor hoax calls.

* Fire control are able to establish location of mobile callers using cell phone technology.

* Fire engines could be attending a hoax call when they may be required to attend a real incident - this could cost lives.

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