Thirsty fireman mistook ammonia for water

Fire chiefs in Gothenburg are unable to explain how one of their men accidentally downed a bottle of ammonia during a routine exercise.

The hazardous but clear liquid had been left in a normal water bottle on a bench near where the fire fighters were working; it left its unwitting recipient with chemical burns to his mouth, throat and stomach.

“He grabbed the bottle and drank two big gulps,” Nils Andréasson, head of rescue operations, told newspaper GT. “We have no idea how the ammonia got there. It was in a regular water bottle, which was why he took it and drank out of it,” he added.

The unlucky fireman was sick straight after the incident and is now recovering in hospital in a serious but stable condition. Andréasson said the incident had been reported to the police, but did not speculate on whether he a crime has been committed.

“We practice every day at 20 fire stations, and there are never any accidents. We have so many instructions and security demands. Besides, these are people who are extremely aware of the risks involved with their jobs,” he said to GT.

“These exercises are done in a work team which includes firemen who’ve worked in ambulances for years, so he received adequate care right away. And we contacted the poison control centre directly through SOS and received information,” he added.