The FDNY is investigating a series of hoax 911 calls that have led firefighters to a single Bronx apartment several dozen times in a period of about three weeks.
Firefighters have been called around the clock to an apartment on 237th Street and Furman Avenue in Wakefield, sometimes as many as eight or nine times a day, according to neighbors.
The responding firefighters from Engine 63 have caught on to the hoax. In one recent dispatch recording, the dispatcher tells the firefighter: "Caller is reporting a fire in 5-Boy. This is the chronic 911 cell caller."
The firefighter responds: "Assuming there's no callback here, right?"
"Negative," the dispatcher says. "Non-working cellphone."
Still, the FDNY has to treat every call like it's a real emergency. So firefighters trudge up five flights of stairs with gear every single time at all hours of the day and night, prepared for the worst but met with no fire or emergency.
"The fire department's coming every day," said Icon Byke, who lives in the building. "It gets irritating. Four, 5 in the morning, they coming in. You hear steps coming down. They coming strong."
Byke appreciates the FDNY's diligence but said the hoax calls are affecting everyone's quality of life.
The victims of the hoax have resorted to posting a handwritten note to their door that there is no fire.
Neighbor Elliot Reyes is also fed up.
"Firemen are supposed to be trying to help you with a real fire," he said.
Byke added, "Somebody could be dying while you're sitting there playing prank calls. It could cause a death."
The FDNY said fire marshals have an ongoing criminal investigation into the false alarms.
"Malicious false alarm calls endanger the public by diverting resources from where they are actually needed and needlessly put FDNY members lives at risk," the FDNY said in a statement.
The calls appear to be coming from a burner cellphone. The residents in the targeted apartment said they have their suspicions about who's making the hoax calls, but they can't be sure. They're hoping investigators quickly identify and locate the prankster.