Nearly 400 hoax calls were made to West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service during the last financial year, putting lives at risk and costing almost £155,000.
Although the number of false reports of a fire in the region has halved over the last four years, the service was forced to deal with 369 prank calls between April 2013 and March 2014 – more than one a day.
The brigade works closely with police and mobile phone companies in dealing with the issue, with 31 requests made to phone providers this year to have mobiles disconnected as a result of a malicious call.
Ian Bitcon, area manager for fire safety in West Yorkshire, said: “Malicious calls pose a real risk to the public. When fire engines are mobilised to the wrong place, they simply are not available should a real emergency be happening elsewhere.
“The fact of the matter is that it’s dangerous and it ultimately puts lives in jeopardy. Not only that, but the financial burden hits the taxpayer in the pocket for something that is a sheer waste of time and money.
“Our message to these pranksters is to think twice because one day it could be their friends or family that genuinely need that fire engine.”
Although every 999 call is taken seriously, the brigade says that control staff are highly trained in call challenging techniques and can often detect malicious calls through experience.
The service has released a recording of a hoax call made by a boy in Leeds, who is eventually rumbled, to highlight the issue.
Click here to hear the clip.