London Fire Brigade

Firefighters attending one 'locksmith job' every hour

29 May 2012

The capital’s firefighters are being called out almost once every hour to rescue people who have locked themselves in or out of a building or vehicle, according to new figures released today by the London Fire Brigade.

Over the last three years, the Brigade was called out to almost 22,000 incidents – 20 every day - involving people being locked in or locked out. In total, these incidents are estimated to have cost taxpayers around £5.7 million pounds.

As well as thousands of calls to people who have locked themselves in or out of their homes, the new figures also show that the Brigade is called to free people from more unusual places like cemeteries, libraries, shops, toilets and cupboards.

In 2009, 2010 and 2011 London Fire Brigade was called to:

  • 2,287 incidents where people were locked in
  • 1,613 incidents where people were locked out
  • 1,409 incidents involving babies or children being locked in cars or homes
  • 276 adults and 176 children locked in toilets
  • 12 people locked in cemeteries
  • 14 people locked in cupboards
  • A woman stuck in a fridge
  • A man shut in a freezer
  • A person locked in the luggage area of a coach
  • A person locked in a crematorium with a child
  • A person stuck in a recycling bin

The Brigade wants to reduce the number of locked in and locked out incidents its crews attend and is reminding the public to call a locksmith, not the fire brigade, when they find themselves stuck.

Dave Brown, the Brigade’s Head of Operations, Prevention and Response said:

“We get called to an absurd number of non-emergency incidents involving people who have locked themselves in or out of their homes.

“We’ve even had people call 999 to ask if we can come round and let them into their homes, but then ask for the fire engine to arrive at 11.30 once they’ve finished at the pub.

“If it’s not a genuine emergency, ring a locksmith, not the fire brigade. Whilst firefighters are helping people get back into their homes, someone else could be trapped in a fire. If it’s obvious to our crews that it’s not an emergency, we won’t help and people may well find themselves left out in the cold.”

Steffan George from the Master Locksmiths Association (MLA), said: “There are around 3000 locksmiths in the UK so there’s really no excuse not to call one if you find yourself locked in or out. In most situations, a locksmith should be with you within an hour.

“It’s always advisable to contact a qualified and inspected locksmith, such as those vetted by the MLA. I’d even suggest storing the phone number of a local locksmith in your mobile in case you ever need it.”

The Brigade says it will always attend if there is an emergency or if someone’s life is at risk, such as when people have collapsed behind locked doors or have locked their medication inside and need it urgently. Firefighters are often called out when there’s a risk of a fire, such as when people have left cooking, irons, hair straighteners or candles on inside their homes and have then locked themselves out.

If on arrival at a ‘locked out’ incident, the firefighters find no evidence of a danger of fire, or life threatening circumstances, they will take no action to help the person to get into the locked property.


Notes to editors

On 28 May 2012, the Brigade will tweet about every locked in / locked out incident its crews attend to highlight how many incidents occur each day. You can follow the Brigade @LondonFire


Over 2009, 2010 and 2011 the London Fire Brigade was called to 21,890 incidents involving people being locked in or locked out. Each incident is estimated to cost at least £260 plus VAT. The total cost of these incidents is around £5.7 million.

Master Locksmiths Association (MLA)

The Master Locksmiths Association (MLA) is the leading Trade Association for the locksmithing industry. In the absence of Government based licensing (meaning that anyone can call themselves a locksmith), the MLA can provide you with peace of mind through it’s licensing scheme.

MLA licensed locksmith companies, who undergo strict vetting (including criminal record checks, regular inspections to ensure quality), are able to provide advice based on knowledge and experience, recommend products that are fit for purpose as well as provide professional installation and maintenance services.

For more information on registered, vetted and inspected locksmiths, please visit the website of the Master Locksmiths Association or call 0800 783 1498