London Fire Brigade

Firefighters issue warning after clothes horse rescue

24 November 2011

Firefighters are urging people to take care following the release of new figures which show how many people become trapped in household objects, machinery and furniture.

Following a news story about firefighters in Derby being called to rescue a student whose head was trapped in a clothes horse, firefighters are asking the public to use common sense in order to prevent such incidents from occurring.

Last year, London’s firefighters were called out to 417 incidents where they had to release people, or body parts, which had become trapped in objects or machinery. (These figures do not include releasing people from road traffic accidents).

The incidents included:

• The removal of rings from the fingers of 160 people
• The removal of handcuffs from 36 people
• The removal of ‘other’ objects from 74 people , 15 of whom were injured
• Rescuing 14 people who had become impaled
• Rescuing 133 people who had become trapped in or under machinery or other objects

Specific examples of some of the incidents from the past five years include:

• A woman with her foot glued to the floor in Islington
• A child with its head stuck in a tambourine in Southwark
• A woman with a  hedge strimmer stuck on her arm in Greenwich
• Several people with their hands stuck in a letterboxes
• Several people with their hands stuck in shredders
• Several children with toilet seats and potties stuck on their heads or round their necks
• Several children trapped in play equipment like swings and slides on playgrounds

Dave Brown, the Brigade’s Assistant Commissioner for Operations and Mobilising, said:

“You wouldn’t believe some of the incidents we’re called to deal with – people manage to get themselves trapped in some very weird and wonderful places but there is a serious side to this. 

“These incidents are time consuming, costly and take up the precious time of our crews who are then unavailable to attend other, potentially life threatening, emergencies.

“We’d ask the public to take greater care to avoid getting themselves into these often ridiculous situations and to think carefully before dialling 999 and calling us out if there isn’t an emergency.”

Many of the incidents involve children and firefighters are asking parents and carers to keep a close eye on their offspring.

Dave Brown went on to say:

“If you’re a parent or carer please keep a close eye on your kids and talk to them about the everyday dangers that exist in all of our homes. As our figures show, it’s really easy for children to become trapped in things like toilet seats, radiators and bunk beds.”


Notes to editors

For a more detailed breakdown of the figures, please call Emma Cullen in the Brigade’s press office on 020 8536 5922.