Plea for people to call 111

People are being urged to call 111 in emergencies after Nelson firefighters received 30 phone calls, and even had people arrive at the station, to alert them to the Centre of New Zealand fire.

Senior Station Officer Steve Shackleton said Nelson people seemed to be loath to call 111.

"People in Nelson seem to think unless the fire is going through the roof it's not an emergency.

"People say it's not an emergency but there's a whole lot of smoke behind my neighbour's house. If there was a whole lot of smoke behind my house I would want someone to call 111."

Mr Shackleton said for Tuesday night's fire at the Centre of New Zealand the station had numerous phone calls and when he got back from being called out to the fire there were four to five messages on the answerphone about the fire.

"People were ringing for an hour." Someone had even driven to the station to alert them to it.

He said it was imperative people called 111 if they saw a fire, smoke, or anything unusual they were worried about.

Ringing 111 ensured the correct details of the emergency were gained and the right fire service was dispatched.

Emergencies had to be logged in the 111 system before emergency services were sent.

Fire stations were not always manned especially if firefighters were out fighting fires.

Mr Shackleton said when people rang the station it sometimes meant he was left to call 111 and report the emergency with secondhand information.

He sometimes had people ring the Nelson station from Tapawera as far as Murchison to report a fire "down the road".

Mr Shackleton said there was no charge to ring 111 and there was no issue if there was no emergency.

St John team manager Jon Leach said it did not have a similar problem, but from time to time people turned up at ambulance stations in Motueka and Richmond wanting an ambulance.

He said calls must be lodged through the 111 system and while it seemed the operator was logging a lot of details, the ambulance had been dispatched at the same time details were being recorded.