Hundreds of malicious phone calls made to emergency fire fighters across Tayside in the last year could have made “the difference between life and death”.
New figures found there were 2,105 false alarms made to the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service in Dundee in 2019/20, 127 of which were malicious.
This was 6% of all false alarms in the city, which is the second highest rate in Scotland after Aberdeen.
On top of this, 1,736 of false alarms in Dundee were due to apparatus, which means the fire service was called automatically by a fire alarm going off, and a further 242 were made with good intentions, where members of the public believed the fire service’s assistance was needed.
There were more hoax phone calls made to the fire service across the rest of Tayside as well.
In Angus there were 903 false alarms in 2019/20, 39 of which were malicious, and 1,106 false alarms in Perth and Kinross, 47 of which were malicious.
Liam Kerr, North-East MSP, said malicious call outs are now more dangerous than ever because of the coronavirus outbreak.
He said: “Hoax calls to emergency services are never acceptable.
“They are even more dangerous now the virus has impacted on the jobs they do.
“Malicious call-outs reduce available resources and put lives at risk in real emergencies.
“Every second counts when responding to a fire.
“To spend 25 minutes on a malicious call could mean the difference between life and death.
“Across Tayside over the last weeks, we’ve seen how critical that fast response can be.
“Anyone who has contributed to any of these 200-plus calls should think seriously about their actions, and the possible repercussions.”
According to statistics from the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service, there were 233.7 accidental house fires per 100,000 dwellings in Dundee between 2019 and 2020.
This was the second highest number in Scotland after Glasgow, which had a rate of 244.1 fires per 100,000 homes.
The statistics prompted calls for residents to be more vigilant to the risks of fires at home and their potential deadly consequences.