Befitting with April Fools Day, the London Fire Brigade has given an insight into some of the more foolish 999 calls which it has had to deal with.
Hoax and inappropriate 999 calls can often mean that people who are in need of genuine help experience delays in getting through to the emergency services, especially during busy and peak periods.
So calling 999 and asking for the fire service because a cat is stuck in a gutter or because a bus driver is locked in a toilet at a bus stand is perhaps not the best use of the 999 system.
The London Fire Brigade (LFB) has revealed that since 2016, it has been called 659 times to people who are locked in toilets, 56 incidents which involved cats or dogs being stuck in unusual places and 17 calls to children with their heads stuck in toilet seats.
When it comes to calls involving trapped animals, the Fire Service has often said that it is better to call the RSPCA and allow them to cordinate the appropriate response.
If the RPSCA requests the assistance of the fire service then, resources allowing, the fire brigade will usually oblige with such requests.
Some of the strangest calls highlighted by the LFB included:
- A woman stuck in a tree while trying to retrieve a cat in Hillingdon
- A pet snake trapped in a ring in Hounslow
- A child with their head stuck in a potty in Westminster
- A bus driver locked in a toilet at a bus stand in Lambeth
- A pigeon stuck in a chimney in Richmond
- A hamster stuck between a toilet and a wall in Tower Hamlets
Deputy Commissioner Tom George said:
“No matter how strange a call may seem, we will always attend if there is a genuine emergency but you should always think carefully about how to use our resources.
“A number of the more unusual calls we attend involve children or animals so we would always urge Londoners to keep an eye on their youngsters or pets to ensure they aren’t getting themselves into sticky situations which could be avoided.”
Despite receiving a number of unusual calls, over the last five years the Brigade has seen a huge drop in the number of
In 2014, the Brigade took 8,560 hoax calls with 7,149 of these calls challenged by their control officers and no fire engines sent to them.
In 2018, the number of
Deputy Commissioner George added:
“With the help of our control officers challenging calls, we have been able to reduce the number of hoax calls we receive and this enables us to be available for when there is a genuine emergency.”
The LFB also released a short video detailing some of stranger calls which it has received:
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