Firefighters: only call us if your life is in danger

Nearly all fire stations charge for non-emergency call-outs to dissuade people from ringing them for jobs which could be done by other professionals.

28 August 2019
By Connexion journalist

The aim is to conserve resources for saving lives.

The Fédération Nationale des Sapeurs-Pompiers de France said that, in 2017, a third of call-outs were for non-emergencies.

Eric Florès, fire chief for the Hérault department, said: “Of course, we will never charge for a real emergency when lives may be at risk.

“But since 1996 the law has stated that we can ask for payment for jobs such as clearing floodwater, destroying insect nests, taking people to hospital who aren’t in need of emerg-ency treatment, and freeing someone from a blocked lift.

“We hope to encourage people to look for other professionals to solve these non-life-threatening jobs so we can be free to respond to real emergencies.”

He said there are no fixed prices, as each case is different and each region is free to fix its own tariff, but it would cost around €300 to ask the fire brigade to destroy a wasps’ nest.

“We are often the first port of call for the public when they have a problem and we need to make them aware we are there to save lives and cannot respond to every cry for help.”

France’s 40,500 full-time sapeurs-pompiers went on symbolic strike this summer in protest over staff numbers.

They are required by law to respond to emergency calls, so the protest was limited to wearing armbands and writing grievances on their vehicles.

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