January 31, 2016 2:09 pm
Updated: January 31, 2016 8:46 pm

Halifax police looking for prank caller posing as firefighter who targeted 16 businesses

WATCH ABOVE: It may be referred to as a hoax or prank but no one is laughing. On Saturday, Halifax Fire responded to about 16 fire alarm calls at businesses in Dartmouth and Bedford. In each case, a male caller posing as a firefighter had asked staff to trigger the fire alarm to test it. As Rebecca Lau reports, the hoax is not only a nuisance but also dangerous.

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Halifax Regional Police are on the hunt for a prankster who called more than a dozen local businesses this weekend posing as a firefighter.

In each case, the male caller asked staff to trigger the business’s fire alarm to test the system.

“The fire department doesn’t have a practice of calling businesses and getting them to test their systems in that way,” said Brad Connors, the acting Division 3 Commander for Halifax Regional Fire & Emergency.

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“In actual fact, we as a fire department typically don’t test systems. All alarm systems are administered and monitored through a private company.”

Connors estimates the fire department responded to 16 of these calls on Saturday throughout Dartmouth and Bedford. The businesses ranged from fast food restaurants to gas stations.

Once the alarm is triggered, the call goes through the 911 centre, which generates an automatic response. Connors says in each of those calls, the fire station responded with two engines and an aerial apparatus.

“It can be very disruptive,” Connors said.

“When a district engine or aerial responds to an emergency, that district then has to be back-filled from another district so it sort of has a ripple effect throughout the whole city.”

Police say the hoax is not only a nuisance, but also dangerous.

“Anytime somebody activates emergency services for no real purpose … we have vehicles, we have people that could be going with code and that would endanger the public so we definitely don’t recommend that,” said Sgt. Kevin McNeil.

The General Investigation Section is investigating the files and will be visiting all the businesses affected.

“If the person was found and we know who they are, they would be facing charges of mischief. Basically, it causes us to investigate something that is false,” McNeil said.

Both Halifax Regional Police and the fire department are advising any businesses that receive a similar call not to activate the alarm.

They’re also looking for any information on the caller.

“We’d appreciate it if they would stop and if anybody has any information regarding these calls to definitely call police,” said Connors.

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