Fifty shades of red

Published:  13 February, 2017

As the second Fifty Shades of Grey film hits cinemas London Fire Brigade warns of rise in embarrassing incidents.

From April 2016 to the present day, firefighters have attended nine penis ring removal incidents which is the same number as the previous two financial years (2014/15 and 2015/16) combined. Handcuff rescues have also increased since the first film was released, with 15 incidents recorded in 2014/15 but this rose to 27 in 2015/16.

The increase in ‘fifty shades’ incidents comes at a time when the number of call outs to people being people being trapped or stuck has decreased. In 2015/16 the number of times firefighters have attended people being stuck in things, often in everyday household items was 459. With seven weeks of this financial year left, the figure is 376.

The Brigade started the Fifty Shades of Red campaign when the books were released, asking people to think carefully before getting themselves into sticky situations.

Despite the campaign’s worldwide coverage, the Brigade is still called out more and more to embarrassing incidents every day.

In February 2015, as the campaign was in full swing, firefighters came to the rescue of a man forced to undergo surgery to remove a metal ring that had been stuck on his penis. Firefighters used pedal cutters - a hydraulic handheld piece of cutting equipment – to free the ring.

In the last five years the capital’s fire crews have been called out to:

• 13 incidents involving children with their heads stuck in potties or toilet seats

• 102 incidents involving people being trapped in handcuffs

• 810 rings removed, including 23 instances of men with rings stuck on their penises

Each incident costs taxpayers at least £326 (US$405), meaning the incidents over the past three years have cost £830,000 (US$1.3 million).

Despite the unusual nature of some of the incidents, the Brigade is keen to stress that people should always call 999 in the case of a genuine emergency.

London Fire Brigade Director of Operations Dave Brown said: “We’re pleased that fewer people are getting themselves stuck in difficult situations and reducing call outs, however, it seems the Fifty Shades of Grey effect is still leading to some call embarrassing call outs.

"I'd like to remind everyone that 999 is an emergency number and should only be used as such. If there's a genuine emergency, fire crews will of course attend and will be on the scene to help within minutes."

People getting into a jam with rings, bracelets and watches are a common occurrence, while firefighters are also regularly called to assist people and children with their fingers trapped in electrical items like washing machines, sewing machines and heaters.

The most common type of call out for this type of incident is to people with rings stuck on their fingers. "Our advice is simple", Dave Brown continued, "If the ring doesn't fit, don't force it on. As well as being painful, you could end up wasting emergency service time if you have to call us out."

Picture: Dakota Johnson at the Los Angeles premiere of Fifty Shades Darker held at the Theatre at Ace Hotel in Los Angeles, USA on February 2, 2017 (credit: Tinseltown/Shutterstock)

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