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article imageLondon Fire Brigade reveals extent of trivial calls to 999

By Dawn Denmar     Oct 12, 2013 in World
London - London Fire Brigade have revealed they have received about 100 unnecessary calls a week to the 999 emergency lines. Calls have ranged from an elderly woman who lost her false teeth to a woman's husband locked into a titanium chastity belt.
For 2012/13 the London Fire Brigade had over 5,287 calls which they did not need to respond to by sending out fire engines and say control room time is being wasted by callers making non-emergency calls to the hotline.
The most bizarre top ten calls listed on the Fire Brigade's website are:
1. A woman rang because of a spider on her pillow.
2. An elderly woman who heard dogs fighting outside her house threw a glass of water at them, forgetting that her false teeth were inside the glass. She rang 999 to ask for help retrieving her dentures.
3. A concerned dad rang about his son’s shoe, which became stuck on a garage roof. He said it was an emergency because his son wouldn’t be able to play football without it.
4. A nervous-sounding woman called about a squirrel in her kitchen. She made ‘squirrel noises’ down the phone to demonstrate.
5. A hysterical caller rang because her phone fell into the toilet and went round the bend.
6. A woman rang because of a fox in her garden. She was scared she’d get bitten because it had ‘an odd look on its face’.
7. An au pair rang about getting help closing a window. She was worried she‘d get in trouble when her host family came home.
8. One caller wanted help changing a tyre, he claimed it would be the Brigade’s fault if he had an accident.
9. A woman rang to get help for her husband, who was locked in a titanium chastity belt.
10. A panicking woman rang when a bat flew into her kitchen. She was worried she might get rabies.
It can be seen from this short list of non-emergency call outs that a number of people take the emergency services for granted and assume they are available to handle the kind of day-to-day problems that arise in most lives.
Some of these calls were so trivial, it calls into question what people actually term "emergency" situations. The caller that tried to justify a need for the Fire Brigade to change a car tyre by saying if he had an accident it would be the Brigade's fault makes a mockery of all emergency service operators. While the guy who wanted the Brigade to come and get his son's shoe off a garage roof because it would be an emergency if his son were unable to play a match must have had some kind of strange delusions — the scenario is like some extract from a comedy show.
Of course, it's great that the Fire Brigade has such a high profile and is a recourse people can turn to in emergencies, but trivial callers are wasting time and energies of dedicated emergency personnel and clogging phone lines that may be needed for real life-or-death situations.
London Fire Brigade's Third Officer, Dave Brown, said: “Our advice is simple – if it’s not an emergency, don’t ring 999. If you’re calling because you have a serious phobia, then arrange for a housemate, friend, or neighbour to help you. If you’re calling because there’s an unexpected animal in your home, call the RSPCA. Firefighters are here for Londoners but we can’t be on speed dial when something trivial happens."
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