I have been reading a report that 8 fire personnel in Germany responded to a call to save a trapped rat. Not a pet rat but a sewer rat stuck in a manhole cover. The 8 fire personnel released the rat which swiftly returned back into the sewer. 8 fire personnel! 1 person with a shovel would have done the trick.
This got me thinking, how many animals do the UK fire service rescue? Do they ever rescue wild animals or vermin? I went in search of answers.
Animal rescues in the UK
In 2017 The London Fire Brigade were involved in 445 animal rescues and in a report by the BBC in the summer of 2017 it was reported that in the three years 2014 – 2016, 15,923 animal rescues were carried out by fire services across the country. With an average cost of £400 per rescue, meaning at least £6m of public money was spent over those three years.
In response the fire service says that at as fire personnel are paid a salary, putting a cost to these rescues is misleading and that animal rescues would not take resources away from protecting life or property. If they didn’t attend the animal rescues, they claim that people would attempt rescues themselves and then get into difficulty.
Now, I have no problem with the fire service rescuing pets or livestock if they have the capacity to do so, however maybe if animal owners had insurance that could go towards minimising the cost to the taxpayer, that would be a help. When it is vermin or wild animals however, these life saving services should not be wasted.
Some of the animals rescued by fire services include
- Three fire engines including a 120 ft cherry picker used to rescue trapped pigeons in Croydon, 2016
- Stroud fire station spending six hours rescuing a pet duck in 2009.
- Norfolk fire brigade sending 5 firefighters to rescue a squirrel up a telegraph pole, which leapt to safety on its own.
- Essex firefighters winching a crow 40 ft to rescue it from a tree.
- Avon fire and rescue sending two engines and a crane to rescue a seagull from a roof in 2009. The seagull didn’t make it.
- Road shut in Woolwich, SE London to allow the fire service to rescue a trapped seagull in 2016.
- Cornwall fire and rescue service rescuing 55 seagulls in a three year period, 2015 – 2017.
- Highgate fire station in Birmingham using a crane to rescue a trapped seagull in 2016.
- Fire service in Chertsey sending out an appliance and crane to rescue trapped seagull which was given to the RSPCA and then put down due to its injuries in 2014.
- 12 firefighters and 3 appliances to rescue a seagull in Blackpool, 2016,
- Devon and Somerset fire service sending 15 personnel in two appliances to rescue a seagull in 2018. The seagull flew off as they tried to ‘save’ it.
Seagulls do appear often in lists of ‘rescues’. Gulls of all species are protected by law, The Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. However, it is known that increasing numbers of ‘urban gulls’ can cause spread of disease and health and safety problems for the public in which case licences can be applied for to limit gull numbers. Yet thousands of pounds of taxpayers money is wasted rescuing these same birds!
The list just goes on and on and in a time when cutbacks are swathing through public services, how on earth can anyone justify wasting public money on these types of so called ‘rescues’?
I cannot praise the fire and rescue service highly enough, they do an amazing job and deal with some of the most horrific scenes imaginable. So it makes it even more galling that time they have is wasted on these so called ‘rescues’ when jobs are at risk, stations looking at merging and any way in which savings can be made. Well look no further, stop rescuing vermin and wild animals unless there is a risk to human life.
Animal owners should be encouraged to have insurance to cover such occurrences – it would be difficult to charge as it may not be the owner who makes the call.
What do you think?
Please let me know what you think. Are you happy for the fire and rescue service to rescue any animal? Do you think the practice should be stopped? Do you have an alternative idea?
Please leave you comments below. Thanks for reading.
Justin – founder Twitway