Must Know in TW: The Emergency Number is NOT 9-1-1

Due to its adaptability, most newcomers in Taiwan think Taiwan operates just like their home countries. Most people also believe the emergency numbers in Taiwan is 911.

Let’s be clear, the Emergency number is NOT 911.

For Police, dial 110.

For Fire and Ambulance, dial 119.

Instinctively, most people think that Taiwan just used 119 because it’s 911 inverted. However, there is actually a story behind “119”. Back in the day, Ximending was the most prominent spot to be in Taipei. Theatres, Department Stores, Bars, and all the big events were all in Ximending. It was the place to be. 1962_

XinSheng Theatre 新生戲院 (present-day Ximending Cashbox Karaoke), one of the iconic theatres at the time was the most popular venue in town. In 1966, on Chinese New Years Eve, the XinSheng Theatre was reportedly on fire. The fire was fierce and quickly spread to nearby department stores and merchants. WanGuo Night Club 萬國大舞廳  was located directly above the XinSheng Theatre and did not survive the disaster. Many girls and dancers were trapped inside the building during the fire.


21 people were injured and 30 died from this fire, including a fireman who fell from an aerial ladder trying to save people trapped in the building. This incident happened on January 19th, 1966. Taiwan decide to adopt the numbers 1-1-9 as the emergency number to remember those who died from this tragic event.

2015-11-25 XinSheng Theatre Fire 2

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