Cumbria fire crews responded to more than 1,000 false alarms in a year, including dozens of malicious hoaxers putting lives in 'serious danger'.

Home Office data shows that more than a third of all incidents attended by the Cumbria Fire and Rescue Service in the year to September 2020 stemmed from false alarms.

Most were caused by faulty equipment or the accidental activation of smoke alarms and sprinkler systems.

Of the rest, 35 per cent were raised by people with good intentions, while 44 'malicious' incidents were linked to hoax calls or alarms being set off where there was no fire.

In Cumbria, 38 per cent of all calls attended over 12 months were false alarms, while more than 226,000 were logged nationally, including over 5,500 malicious incidents.

A spokesman for Cumbria Fire and Rescue Service said: "When the fire and rescue service attend false alarms or respond to hoax calls, it means we might not be available for a genuine emergency and potentially puts lives at risk.We really need people to assist us in reducing the number of false alarms and having alarms regularly maintained and not making hoax calls is the best way to help.

"Making hoax calls is a criminal offence and we work closely with the police to catch those responsible."

The Home Office said fire prevention was "core business" for every service and that officers used experience and local intelligence to decide what interventions would best prevent and reduce the risk of fire in their communities.

A number of fire brigades have introduced charging policies in an effort to recover the costs of attending persistent false alarms at hotspots such as hospitals, student halls of residence and airports.

Charges, which differ from service to service, are usually restricted to non-residential facilities and can cost repeat offenders hundreds of pounds for a call-out.

NFCC chair, Roy Wilsher, described the figures as shocking and said malicious callers could prevent crews from attending incidents where people were in serious danger. He added: “People making these reckless calls need to ask themselves what would happen if a member of their family needed emergency assistance."