Claims Oxfordshire 999 fire calls ignored branded 'a hoax'

Firefighters have denied claims made in a "telemarketing scam" that emergencies are not being responded to.

Oxfordshire's fire and rescue service said residents had received calls from a company offering an alternative way of reporting a fire.

Spokesman Stuart Garner called the claims "totally false and deliberately misleading", and an attempt to sell a "completely unnecessary service".

Trading Standards has yet to identify the source of the calls.

The mystery company said emergency calls received by the fire service were not always dealt with because firefighters were sometimes busy with hoax calls.

The firm then offers to contact emergency services directly if there is a fire, for a price.

'Particularly unpleasant'

Mr Garner, who is the home and community safety manager for the fire service, said: "I want to categorically reassure people that the county's fire and rescue service will respond to every 999 call it receives."

Richard Webb, Oxfordshire County Council's trading standards manager, said: "Clearly this sort of behaviour is unacceptable and it will not be tolerated.

"I and my team are keen to learn more about this apparent scam - those who are responsible for this are in fact the ones making the hoax calls."

Councillor Louise Chapman called it a "particularly unpleasant sort of approach" that sought to undermine the work of firefighters in the county.

The investigation continues.

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