Fire services’ warning after TikTok ‘hoaxes’

Prank 'explosions' spark unnecessary call outs for fire crews



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Published on 9 December 2022

Prank 'explosions' spark unnecessary call outs for fire crews

West Midlands Fire Service (WMFS) and Staffordshire Fire and Rescue (SFRS) are issuing a warning over a TikTok ‘explosion’ prank trend that’s causing emergency services to attend hoax incidents. 

Worrying videos of mock explosions, with hundreds of thousands of views, have been circulating on social media, causing friends and family members to call the emergency services thinking their loved ones are in danger. 

The warning comes after two separate calls to Staffordshire and West Midlands Fire Control, prompted by such videos. Fire crews responded on blue lights to the locations, only to find the incidents were not genuine. Local police and ambulance services also responded. 

The first call, received on 30 November 2022, was to an incident in Tipton, West Midlands, where the recipient of an explosion prank video called 999 after he thought his partner and their two-year-old son could be trapped in the property following an explosion. 

The woman who sent the video, who wishes to remain anonymous, sent a video to her partner of their oven supposedly exploding.  

She said: “On TikTok the videos came across as just a harmless joke, so I decided to find out how to make one myself and I sent it to my partner. Unfortunately, he genuinely did believe it and phoned the fire service. 

“Having to explain to the firefighters who turned up that it was meant to be a joke was awful. I felt so guilty, and also scared because there could have been an actual emergency somewhere and I could have got into serious trouble. I will definitely never do a prank like that again and I have certainly learned a lesson from it.” 


The second incident, on 4 December, was an incident in Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire. Fire engines attended a property after a mother was sent a similar video and believed her three children were involved in a genuine explosion. 

In recent months, the alarming trend has been watched and shared thousands of times on TikTok, with videos often showing reactions from worried friends and family after they’ve received the videos via direct messages.  

Group Manager Kelly Whitmore, head of Staffordshire and West Midlands Fire Control said: “The short clips we’ve seen show genuine footage of the person using an appliance, plug socket or similar, before a filter simulates an explosion, screams can be heard and the screen goes black.

“Although intended as pranks, these videos have resulted in genuine fear for loved ones. In both these recent cases we have mobilised fire crews and the callers have been in genuine distress. 

“We are urging people not to create or share such content, and to think twice about the consequences. While the emergency calls are genuine, the incidents are ultimately a hoax and tie up valuable resources that could be used to attend real emergencies.” 

WMFS and SFRS are calling on social media users not to create ‘explosion prank’ videos or share or encourage them to be shared on social media or direct message apps. If you see such content online, we strongly encourage you to report it so that the platforms can remove it.