Hoax calls are usually frowned upon by the Bulawayo Fire and Ambulance Services Department because they cost ratepayers thousands of dollars, but in December last year, a nuisance 999 caller put firefighters in the line of fire in a bid to scare off armed robbers.
According to latest council minutes, a call was made from a house in Morningside on December 21 last year that there was a fire by a man who wanted to save a friend whose home had been raided by armed robbers.
Although the plan worked, as the robbers fled the scene upon hearing the oncoming sirens, acting chief fire officer Mr Linos Phiri said the caller exposed firefighters to being shot or killed.
In a report by the Bulawayo Fire and Ambulance Services Department for December 2021, Mr Phiri said the department received the call at 9.22PM and attended the scene at 9.47PM only to find it was not the type of fire they are trained to fight.
“Brigade attended to a call reported as a property fire, yet this was an armed robbery and the caller wanted to scare off armed robbers who had raided the property using the fire brigade’s quick response, fire sirens and flashers. The owner was under siege of thieves who were threatening to burn the house if the doors were not opened.
The friend called the brigade to save his friend. On hearing sirens, the robbers fled from the scene. The caller exposed our firefighters to the danger of being shot or killed in this incident,” Mr Phiri reported.
When a Chronicle news crew visited the house in Morningside yesterday, a woman who appeared to be returning home from work declined to comment.
“There was something like that which happened, but what if we don’t want to talk about it,” said the woman who then went into the yard.
The dangerous call was one of six false alarms that the Bulawayo Fire and Ambulance Services Department received in December last year.
According to the council minutes, there were 18 calls for fires around the city with 39 percent of them involving rubbish fires. Property fires decreased by 50 percent when compared to those in the same month of 2020.
Also, veld fires increased by 4 percent compared to December of the previous year. This increase was due to late rains experienced in 2021.