FCC Fines Fire Department Impersonator

The U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has ordered a North Carolina man to pay a nearly $40,000 monetary penalty in connection with radio broadcasts in which he impersonated local fire department personnel.

According to a Forfeiture Order issued in early August, Ocean Hinson of Surry County, North Carolina allegedly responded in October 2017 to a request from County officials in connection with a local residential fire alarm. Hinson, posing as “Westfield VFD Unit 7331,” used the mobile radio in his vehicle to confirm that he was en route to the scene of the alarm. Hinson contacted the dispatcher again a few minutes later and canceled the call, resulting in no response by an actual first responder.

Fortunately, there was no fire at the scene of the alarm.

Hinson, who is not a fire service professional, later admitted to making the two radio transmissions on public radio frequencies, in violation of FCC regulations, but pleaded for a reduced fine in light of his “limited financial means.” However, the FCC determined that Hanson’s “egregious” conduct outweighed any plea for financial leniency.

Read the FCC’s Forfeiture Order in connection with this case.

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