FIREFIGHTERS who responded to a hoax 999 call reporting persons trapped in a burning flat say those responsible are putting lives at risk.

Three Dorset Fire and Rescue Service (DFRS) fire engines, police, paramedics and the Red Cross support vehicle attended an address at South Kinson Drive, Kinson, Bournemouth, on Monday evening, after a caller said smoke was billowing from underneath the flat’s front door with someone inside.

That kind of call, explained Redhill and Christchurch fire stations district commander Stu Jeneson, is about the most serious firefighters can get.

“We call this a person’s reported call, which means we send the nearest three appliances automatically,” he explained.

Ten minutes after the malicious Kinson call, fire control received a second report of flames coming from another address a few miles away in Parkstone.

Mr Jeneson explained: “This second call turned out to be nothing, a neighbour honestly mistook a bonfire for something worse. But the point is if it had been something else, I had three appliances tied up at the same time.

“If the Parkstone shout had been more serious this could easily have led to delays in getting the right resources to the scene.

“A fire engine cannot be in two places at once, it is just not possible. In a fire seconds really, really do count.

“You can lose a room in under five minutes.”

Mr Jeneson stressed the bigger a fire gets, the bigger the risk to firefighters.

“I don’t think hoax callers understand the possible consequences of their actions. There are cases up and down the country where deaths have occurred because of hoax calls delaying attendance.”

A Dorset Police spokesman confirmed DFRS notified them of the Kinson shout, and that they had resources tied up in the incident as well.