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Carnival firemen answer 999 call as giant bees with handbags

Ten Austrian fireman ended up answering an emergency call for a serious road accident dressed as giant bumblebees after they got kitted out for a fancy dress parade on a carnival float shortly before they got the emergency call.

The firemen from the Ernstbrunner Wald fire station in the Korneuburg district of Lower Austria had agreed to take part in the charity fundraising event as part of the traditional Fasching celebration, when many Austrians dress up to celebrate the Carnival season.

The firemen, most of whom were volunteers, had just posed for their first photograph when the alarm bells started to ring.

Fireman Patrick Schmursch, 38, said: "We were all wearing tights and wigs and had already put on honeybee make up. Because the tights didn't have any pockets we had even added handbags to the costumes to carry mobile phones and wallets. It looked pretty ridiculous, which is exactly what Carnival is all about, and then suddenly the alarm bell went off.

"My colleagues were shouting 'alarm, alarm' and realised there was no time to get undressed. We grabbed our uniforms and dressed as giant bumblebees jumped into the fire engine to head out to the emergency call."

His colleague fireman Stefan Tillmann, 32, said: "On the way some of us managed to get changed into uniforms and by the time we arrived we were still in various stages of a cross between a fireman's uniform and a giant bumblebee. I personally never thought for a second that I should wait around at the base to take my make-up off – when you get a call for an emergency you go onto autopilot and just get there as quickly as you can. In fact it was only when we got there and someone asked me why I was yellow and black that I even remembered I had the make-up on."

The accident reported as a serious car crash turned out to be a young Austrian who had managed to turn his car over but had freed himself from the wreckage by the time the firemen arrived, and was not badly hurt.

Fire brigade commander Johann Tillmann, 36, said: "He gave us a funny look when we arrived but I think he was a bit under shock and didn't trust himself to say anything, and then the police arrived and I think he didn't even particularly realise that it was men dressed as bees who were helping out in turning the car back over and clearing the road.

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