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Last updated: 01/04/2019, 8:45 AM

London Fire Brigade warns about foolish 999 calls

01/04/2019 08:30
London-wide
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A child with a toilet seat stuck on their head, a cat stuck in a gutter after jumping out of a skylight and a bus driver locked in a toilet at a bus stand are among some of the most foolish 999 calls made to London Fire Brigade in the last three years.

On April Fool’s Day, the Brigade is asking people to use a little bit of common sense to help avoid unnecessary calls.

Since 2016, the Brigade has been called 659 times to people locked in a toilet, 56 incidents which involved cats or dogs being stuck in unusual places and 17 calls to children with their heads stuck in toilet seats.

Among the strangest calls received by the Brigade are:

  • 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.”

We challenge hoax calls

Despite receiving a number of unusual calls, over the last five years the Brigade has seen a huge drop in the number of hoax calls it receives and our 999 control officers are challenging calls they believe not to be genuine.

In 2014, the Brigade took 8,560 hoax calls with 7,149 of these calls challenged by our control officers and no fire engines sent to them. In 2018, the number of hoax called received had dropped to 5,410 with 4,201 calls challenged.

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.”