Fire brigade get new zapping device


By Cara Sulieman

A SCOTTISH fire service has brought in a new tool in the fight against hoax calls – technology that “zaps” phones and disables them.

Lothian and Borders Fire and Rescue have been working with phone companies and have come up with a variety of ways to prevent the dangerous – and costly – prank calls.

When a mobile phone is registered to someone then they can be traced and reported to the police.

But some pay-as-you-go mobiles aren’t registered to anyone – and this is where the zapping technology will come in handy.

Destroy the phone

David Mallin, the fire service’s head of community safety said that the new gadget will destroy any phone that is a repeat offender in hoax calls – and that the service will not hesitate to use it.

He said: “It is such a huge concern because it takes crews out of operation, and puts people’s lives at risk.

“We have worked with the phone companies and we can trace these calls and report them to the police. If it is a pay-as-you-go mobile, it may not be registered to anyone, but we have the ability to zap it, and effectively destroy the phone.

BT can also hold landlines open for us, so we can get an address and go round to the house, and when we pick up the phone the operator can confirm that is where the call came from.”

Have to attend

If the fire service receives a hoax call, they have to respond and can’t attend any other call until they’ve made sure there it is actually a fake.

This costs the service £500 every time and can take up valuable time – sometimes up to an hour.

The 504 fake calls received by Lothian and Borders Fire and Rescue Service in the last year is estimated to have cost £250,000, and it could have been more.

Suspicious 999 operators challenged 109 hoax callers who then hung up before the service was called out.