Matata volunteers victim to prank callers

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Eastern Bay emergency services are currently working to educate a group of youngsters on the dangers of prank calls.

It comes after the group made a prank call to 111 on Sunday afternoon, reporting a house fire in Matata.

Edgecumbe and Matata firefighters were deployed to the incident, but soon found their efforts were in vein when the crews were unable to find any sign of a fire upon arrival.

Deputy Chief Mark Hoffert says those responsible of this have a history of pranking the brigade.

"We've had a string of incidents in the past, not recently but a few months ago. Young people had been breaking the glass at the call point outside the Matata Station -- so they could watch us come and do our thing.

"Those lads and their families had already been talked to, and now police are talking to those same people to get some clues as to what's happened."

He says he doesn't want to see the group punished, but he wants to ensure the message sinks in as to why they shouldn't be doing this.

"We don't want to see young people punished, we don't want awful consequences, but we also want the message to sink in that this is not okay and it needs to stop."

Mr Hoffert says the impact isn't only on the brigade, its on the entire community.

He says calls like this can have a huge impact on the community, as many resources need to be diverted from other locations.

"Ultimately it's diverting volunteer resources away from you, and your community. You could end up paying quite a price for that, whether it effects yourself, your family or others in your community.

"It's a really dangerous thing they do and one day when they need help, it may not be available to them."

He says the pranksters are currently being spoken to by police.

Mr Hoffert has this message to anyone else who may be thinking of mimicking the group's actions from the weekend.

"This isn't cool it's very uncool and if you look at the response this incident has had on Facebook, you'll see no one thinks it's a good idea."

Sam Gardner