THE Bulawayo City Council (BCC) has suffered an estimated loss of about $13 million as a result of fake ambulance and fire calls, recorded between January and August this year thereby compounding the challenges which the local authority is facing in meeting its service delivery.
The latest statistics from the emergency services department revealed that there was a record number of 1 436 false ambulance calls and 18 false fire calls recorded between January and August this year.
As for the false ambulance calls, the figures include 1 288 calls made with good intent while 148 were made with malicious intent.
Acting Chief Fire Officer Jabulani Ndlovu said the upsurge in false alarms, combined with personnel cuts, was placing “severe physical strains” on the local authority’s service delivery.
“As from January to August this year we recorded 1 288 false alarm with good intent where the caller could see smoke and call us or where the alarm actuates and we respond, the intention would be good but there won’t be any fire and 148 false alarm malicious calls where the caller would be making a malicious call.
“False calls represent 11 percent of the total number of calls done within this period and as a result we suffered an estimated loss of about $3 million (Ambulance fare, fuel and wear and tear),” said Ndlovu.
He said currently the local authority was operating with a fleet of six ambulances out of the required 15, thereby compromising health delivery in the city.
Turning to false fire reports Ndlovu said they were also a cause for concern as about $10 million was spent attending to those false reports.
“For the same period between January and August 2021 the department also recorded 13 false alarms with good intent and five false alarms with malicious intent.
“False alarm calls represent 4 percent of the total number of calls done as from January 2021 up to the current month and an estimated loss of revenue (Fire fee, fuel, wear and tear) is approximately $10 million,” he said.
He appealed to residents to be responsible as the resources wasted on false alarms affected them as the owners of the city.
As part of mitigation measures that can be done to minimise the adverse impacts of both false ambulance and fire reports, Ndlovu said there was need to embark on awareness campaigns, installation of modern software systems and tracking systems for callers, implement fully GIS in the Emergency services and a deterrent penalty for offenders.