Why Do Japanese Dial 119 to Call Fire Station?

      2016/09/10

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In Japan, people call 119 to request fire trucks and firefighters.

What about your country?

 

Today I’m going to discuss why Japanese Fire Station ended up using 119 as their phone number.

 

fire

 

History of Japanese Fire Station

 

Have Japanese been using 119 because of USA?

Japanese use 119 but it’s not because they copied North America’s 911.

 

Edo Period (1603-1868)

 

Back in 1650, Japanese government created organization called Jyobi keshi (定火消). Their duty was to extinguish fire in the area.

In 1712, Japanese government created another organization called Daimyou bikeshi (大名火消).

Their main duty was to extinguish fire in Edo castle. They were not really responsible for fire in town and village.

 

It was 1718 that Machi bikeshi (町火消) was created.

Their duty was to extinguish fire for town and village and helped citizens.

 

Meiji Period (1868-1912)

Due to Meiji Restoration, Japanese government abolished Jyobi keshi and Daimyou bikeshi.

 

Machi bikeshi, however, changed organization and it became under control by Tokyo Police Department.

 

 

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Taisyou Period(1912-1926)

During this era, firefighters were partially worked as police assistance.

They only had department in Tokyo and Osaka.

In 1919, they expand fire departments to Kyoto, Kobe, Nagoya and Yokohama city.

 

 

Syouwa Period(1926-1989)

During this period, government increased the number of fire departments all over Japan.

 

 

During Taisyou period, people used to call and ask where fire was.

As there were a lot of fire occurring, people would call at once and phone line disrupted.

Then government changed system and set up number for people to report where fire was.

At first the phone number was 112.

 

But there were so many people dialed wrong as 1 and 2 are next to each other on Japanese old phones.

 

fire-phone

 

When people found fire, they got upset and couldn’t dial 112.

They might have dialed 111, 122, 113 etc…

 

In 1927, Japanese government finally changed the number to 119.

1 and 9 were located far from each other, so people didn’t dial wrong even if they were upset.

 

Since then Japanese dial 119 for fire department.

 

 

Summary

 

Phone number for Fire Department was 112 at the beginning.

Many people dialed wrong to report fire, so government changed the number to 119.

 

For smart phones, numbers really don’t matter. But it was necessary to change number as people used old style phones.

 

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