A HOAX 999 caller wasted firefighters’ time out of “boredom”, a court heard.
Keith Parkin, of Bedford Avenue, Laygate, South Shields, called the fire brigade out four times between March 13 and 19, claiming he could smell smoke.
When crews from South Shields fire station arrived at the locations in the town flagged up by Parkin, the calls were all found to be false alarms.
The phone calls were traced back to the 28-year-old’s phone, and at South Tyneside Magistrates’ Court, he pleaded guilty to knowingly making a false alarm to a fire brigade.
Ian Simpson, prosecuting, said the first call took place on March 13 at 9.40am.
He said: “The defendant made a call, claiming there was a smell of smoke coming from McDonald’s in King Street. When the fire service arrived, there was nothing to report. The incident was recorded as malicious.”
On March 16, unemployed Parkin made two further calls, first claiming to smell smoke next to the supermarket Lidl in Laygate and, later that day, at Laygate flats.
At 1.20pm on March 19, he placed another call, claiming there was a smell of smoke coming from the escalator at Asda’s Coronation Street supermarket.
Fire engines attended the shop three times, and each time nothing was found.
Chris Brown, defending, said that a report had been looked into the reasons why Parkin, previously convicted of arson, made the calls.
He said: “The report explores the reasons why these calls were made.
“One of those is down to boredom. It’s hoped that in the future, he will be able to get employment.”
Magistrates chairman David Gouch gave Parkin a 12-week jail sentence suspended for 12 months, plus a 12-month supervision order. He was also ordered to do 150 hours’ community service and fined £165.
Bill Forster, Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service district manager for South Tyneside, said: “While the number of hoax calls has reduced, there is no doubt that people who do this are putting lives at risk.
“They are a drain on our resources. While we are attending these incidents our firefighters may not be available to attend a house fire or road traffic collision where someone’s life is at risk.
“Those making the calls may think it’s a bit of fun, but I would like to ask them if they would still think that if it was one of their family or friends we could not rescue in time.”