asked the Postmaster-General whether his attention has been called to the fact that on the occasion of a fire at the house of Mr. F. C. Tiarks, at Chislehurst, in the early morning of the 29th of last month, the housekeeper spent a quarter of an hour while the house was in flames in trying to telephone to the Bromley Fire Station; that after she had endeavoured in vain to get a reply from the operator the footman tried, and that in all fifteen minutes were wasted before the fire-call was answered; and, if so, what action he has taken in the matter?
§ Mr. HERBERT SAMUEL
My attention has been called to a paragraph in the "Daily Mail" of 30th June to the effect stated in the question. I have made special inquiry and find that the allegations are wholly unfounded. The facts are these: About 1 a.m. on the 29th June a call was received from the residence next to Mr. Tiarks' house for the Chislehurst Fire Brigade (Lower Borough). It was put through to them, but the brigade advised the caller to ring up the Chislehurst Police Station. At 1.3 a.m. a call from Mr. Tiarks' house for Bromley Fire Station was put through, and the caller was informed from the fire station that the fire was out of the Bromley district, but that the brigade would turn out if their expenses were guaranteed. About 1.10 a.m. the telephone operator on his own initiative called the Chislehurst Fire Brigade (Upper Borough), to whom he gave information of the fire. The Bromley Fire Brigade turned out at about 1.17 a.m. in response to a second call from Mr. Tiarks' house guaranteeing the brigade's expenses. It will thus be seen that the first call was received not from the house that was actually on fire, but from the next house; being a fire call special attention was given to it, and no doubt if there was a brief delay in answering the call from Mr. Tiarks' house it was owing to the fact that the operator was devoting special attention to seeing the first call through. He was not, however, responsible for the delay which occurred before the Bromley Fire Brigade turned out, and it would appear that he rendered a considerable service by calling the Chislehurst Fire Brigade on his own initiative.