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Fire Authority Chief issues warning about prank calls

The Commissioner of Fire and Emergency Services (F.E.S.A.), Lelevaga Faafouina Mupo, has warned members of the public that it is illegal to make prank calls to the Fire Services.

The Commissioner used the celebration of International Firefighters Day on Friday to raise the issue, pointing out that prank calls cost money and places the lives of firemen, women and members of the public at risk.

“When our teams respond to emergency calls, they have to drive at a very fast speed in order to reach and put out a fires,” Lelevaga said.

“If there is a car accident due to us rushing off to answer a call for help, and the call ends up as a prank call, who do we blame?”

In many cases, the Commissioner said the calls come from children playing with their parents’ phones. 

In other cases, the callers deliberately mislead the authority.

He warns that this is illegal and they work with the Police to ensure this does not happen.
“Under the Fire and Service Act 2007, it stares that any person who gives a false alarm, interferes with a fire alarm without lawful justification or willfully gives or causes to be given, or attempts to give or cause to be given a false alarm of fire, commits an offence and is liable to a term of imprisonment not exceeding three months or to a fine not exceeding 30 penalty units or both,” Lelevaga said.

“The Authority may offer a reward not exceeding an amount specified by the Minister for information leading to the conviction of any person who commits an offence under the subsection.”

Lelevaga urged parents that they should monitor their children when using cellphones. He said problem that the authority faces is children playing with cellphones and dialing 911, especially after school hours.

Asked how many people have been prosecuted as a result of such calls, the Commissioner said: “We are not aware of anyone being prosecuted due to this law because that is in the hands of the Police.

“We do know that there are one to three cases presented to the Police between 3-6 months each year on prank calls.”

Lelevaga also said the Police work closely with Bluesky and Digicel to identify the numbers.

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