The London Fire Brigade has revealed some of the strangest calls to its 999 control centre in a bid to reduce the 5,000 non-emergency calls received each year.
The Brigade says requests to fish keys out of drains, retrieve footballs from trees, or shoo rats out of kitchens detract from its efforts to help Londoners in the event of a genuine emergency.
- A woman rang because of a spider on her pillow.
- 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.
- 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.
- A nervous-sounding woman called about a squirrel in her kitchen. She made ‘squirrel noises’ down the phone to demonstrate.
- A hysterical caller rang because her phone fell into the toilet and went round the bend.
- 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’.
- An au pair rang about getting help closing a window. She was worried she‘d get in trouble when her host family came home.
- One caller wanted help changing a tyre, he claimed it would be the Brigade’s fault if he had an accident.
- A woman rang to get help for her husband, who was locked in a titanium chastity belt.
- A panicking woman rang when a bat flew into her kitchen. She was worried she might get rabies.
The brigade’s 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.
“Control officers are available to take emergency 999 calls 24 hours a day but if people are ringing up with non-emergencies, time and resources are wasted. We are here to respond to real emergencies, so if you do find a squirrel in your kitchen or you lose your keys down the toilet, don’t dial 999.”