THE fire service has hit out at hoax callers after two fire engines were dispatched to an incident in Alloa last weekend that turned out to be fake.

Just four minutes after leaving the scene of that false incident, fire services then raced to Alva after a genuine emergency was reported.

Following on from the weekend's events, a senior fire services officer issued a reminder that malicious calls can be "potentially devastating" and distract firefighters from helping those in need.

When asked for details about the two incidents that were reported last week, a Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS) spokesman said: "[We were] alerted at 3.01pm on Saturday, March 9 to reports of a dwelling fire on Hutton Park, Alloa.

"Operations Control mobilised two fire engines to the scene – from Tillicoultry and Alloa. However, it was thereafter established that this was a hoax call.

"Firefighters left the scene at 3.21pm.

"SFRS crews were then alerted at 3.25pm to reports of a dwelling fire at Nethergate in Alva.

"Operations Control mobilised two fire engines to the scene, from Alloa and Stirling, and both appliances arrived on scene at 3.30pm

"A fire involving a kitchen appliance had already been extinguished, and one casualty suffering from smoke inhalation was passed into the care of Scottish Ambulance Service.

"Firefighters thereafter left the scene at 4.30pm after ensuring the area was made safe."

Commenting on the damage that hoax calls can cause, Roddie Keith, the SFRS's senior officer for Clacks, told the Advertiser: "Every second counts in an emergency and malicious calls have the potential to delay us from reaching those in need of our assistance.

"Put simply, when firefighters have to attend false alarms they could be taken away from genuine emergencies.

"Our robust and flexible strategic planning ensures that our communities are protected at all times.

"But educating people on the potentially devastating effects of making a malicious call remains a key part of our prevention efforts.

"That is why we work with schools, partners and communities to try and educate people on the potential consequences of such reckless actions, and reinforce why they need to stay safe."