Freeing someone’s hand from a money box and another from a cattle grid are just some of the bizarre call-outs answered by fire crews in the last year.
North Wales Fire and Rescue Service firefighters were called to 22 rather unique incidents across Flintshire and Wrexham in the last 12 months to help people caught in unusual and embarrassing predicaments.
They included freeing someone from a set of handcuffs and rescuing two children from trees.
Details released to the Leader via a Freedom of Information (FoI) request revealed more than £6,600 had been spent by the fire service to help people trapped in sticky situations.
That is an increase of more than five times the previous year.
Cllr Paul Shotton, who sits on the North Wales Fire and Rescue Authority, said calls that take fire crews away from genuine emergencies “could cost lives”.
Among the distress calls received was an incident last May when a person in Saltney had to have their hand freed from a pavement grid.
In the same month, a fire officer in Wrexham was called to remove a padlock that had been locked onto a person while in January this year, a child’s thumb had to be removed from a plastic ball.
In addition, two children had to be freed from trees and another two from swings.
A North Wales Fire and Rescue Service spokesman said it was important for residents to ensure they were seeking assistance responsibly and when appropriate.
“Our advice is always one of prevention and we would urge people to heed our safety messages and to take steps to avoid needing to call for our assistance.
“We would take this opportunity to remind everyone that 999 is an emergency number and should only be used as such. Calls to our control are also challenged by our operators to deter hoax calls.”
The most expensive callout dealt with by fire crews was to free a person from underneath a car in Mold in last April, at a cost of £757.66.
Cllr Shotton said the figures were of “great concern” in a time of belt-tightening throughout public services.
He said: “Budgets are very tight and the situation with the Wrexham station closing has been put off for now.
“It’s very concerning as in the past we’ve seen things like animals being rescued.
“It’s of great concern that the fire service are getting these calls and it’s just mindless people who get these ideas in to their heads.
“It comes at a cost and could cost lives by taking the fire services away from genuine emergencies.
“It is disturbing.”
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