FIREFIGHTERS have been sent to a staggering 3,000 false alarms in just one year - nearly every OTHER call-out.

New figures reveal how 47 per cent of the incidents Hereford & Worcester Fire and Rescue Service attend are false alerts, with bosses calling it "soul destroying".

The region's fire authority chief says he is at a loss what to do, and that "people's lives are being put at risk" because of it.

In 2015/16 the fire service went to 6,459 incidents, 347 more than the previous financial year.

But 3,050 of them turned out to be false alarms, diverting firefighters away from genuine emergencies elsewhere.

Fresh suggestions are being made that fire control call handlers may have to interrogate more people when they ring in - especially with the bonfire period approaching.

Cllr Derek Prodger, the fire authority's chairman, has revealed how talks are taking place today to try and broker a new solution.

"It's very sad and soul destroying for the firefighters, they turn out for what they think is going to be an emergency and often it's a waste of time," he said.

"I feel for our staff, when they come in they prepare themselves so carefully to be on alert, we need to find a way around this.

"I'd urge people to think twice before calling because if it's a false alarm, it could mean a travesty for somebody else if there is a genuine emergency elsewhere.

"We have to come up with an answer."

Cllr Richard Udall, who chairs the Labour group on the fire authority, will also be involved in the talks today.

"I share his frustration, but one of the issues is that the fire crews only discover it's a false alarm when they've got there," he said.

Most of the false alarms are avoidable with bosses saying faulty alarms due to poor maintenance, accidental activation, pranks, cooking fumes, badly trained workers inside businesses, steam from showers and even insects are some of the reasons for it.

As well as the huge number of false alarms, crews attended 1,920 fires and 648 road traffic collisions in 2015/16.

A new report on the data says despite false alarm calls being lower than what it was a decade ago, it has remained "relatively consistent" for the last few years.

But the budget is down by £3.4 million compared to 2010/11 and now stands at £32 million - with two fire engines removed since then and some crews volunteering to work 24-hour shifts, with 12 hours on call, to plug staffing gaps.

Steven Gould, secretary of the Fire Brigades Union in Worcestershire, said: "I keep an eye on incident numbers and they have been rising for the last five or six quarters in a row - that's not a blip."