A RETAINED firefighter has been suspended for allegedly making a hoax 999 call.

The officer, based at Canvey fire station, is alleged to have made the call at about 10pm on Saturday, November 3 - a night when many fireworks displays were being held in Castle Point and across south Essex.

It is understood a call was made from a phone box claiming there was fire at a shop in Canvey High Street.

When the alarm was raised the operator is said to have heard a pager go off.

All retained firefighters carry the devices so they can be alerted when they are needed to attend a 999 emergency.

It is alleged that when the caller was challenged about whether they were a firefighter, the person hung up.

Retained firefighters get paid an hourly rate that varies according to experience and contractual terms, but trainee firefighters earn £9.66 an hour and competent firemen are paid £12.88 for each job they are called out on.

Julian Ashley, east area commander and senior divisional officer for the fire service, said: “A firefighter at the fire station has been suspended while an internal investigation is carried out.

“The matter has also been reported to the police as is service policy for all malicious calls.”

The incident is one of a number of allegations being levied at staff at the retained fire station.

The fire service was forced to investigate the disappearance of about £450 from a safe that was raised during a charity fire engine pull for Canvey schoolboy Danny Green, 11, who died earlier this year after battling a brain tumour.

One local resident also told the Echo that firefighters were recruited too quickly when the station became retained last September.

But Mr Ashley said: “Though recruited relatively quickly to enable the introduction of a change to crewing arrangements, no Essex fire recruits are allowed to be active, operational firefighters without having passed a range of stringent physical tests and having completed rigorous training - that is the case at Canvey fire station.

“As with any group of employees, a number of personnel issues arise over which the service has little or no control. In these instances, management action is robust with full internal investigation initiated immediately and the appropriate disciplinary action taken where necessary.

“We can confirm that the matter of missing money was investigated earlier this year both by ECFRS and Essex Police but in the absence of any conclusive evidence, the case was closed.”