Rise in animal rescue and stuck object calls for Hertfordshire fire service despite overall drop in incidents
The most common reason was to help a trapped pet
Firefighters in Hertfordshire were called to more incidents involving stuck objects and stranded animals last year, despite an overall fall in callouts amid the coronavirus pandemic, figures show.
Home Office data shows 172 such calls were made to the Hertfordshire Fire and Rescue Service in the year to March – 29 more than the year before.
They included 100 calls to help animals who found themselves in trouble and 72 callouts to remove objects from people.
Across England the number of times firefighters were drafted in to help animals increased from 4,724 to 5,159 over the year.
The most common reason was to help a trapped pet, which was quoted in a fifth of incidents attended nationally, closely followed by rescuing pets from a height.
Animal charity the RSPCA said its staff rescues tens of thousands of stuck or trapped animals every year.
Steve Bennett, deputy chief inspectorate officer, said: "While our staff are trained and equipped to help a lot of them out of trouble, there may be some situations where they need a helping hand to ensure both the rescuers and the animals remain safe.
"We can request the assistance of the fire and rescue service just like any member of the public can do, and we're incredibly grateful to crews across England and Wales who are animal-lovers just like us and will always lend a hand to help an animal in need if they're available."
The number of people requiring help with stuck objects also increased nationally from 5,311 to 5,632.
Two-thirds of incidents saw someone needing help removing a ring, while trapped limbs accounted for 16 per cent of calls.
Overall, Hertfordshire firefighters attended 9,815 incidents in 2020-21 – including 2,440 fires – down from 10,292 the year before.
They included 2,980 non-fire related incidents, which may be related to flooding, assisting people trapped in lifts and road traffic accidents.
A spokesperson for Hertfordshire Fire and Rescue Service said: “We are happy to assist in animal rescues when we are available and able to do so.
"Our firefighters have the training and the specialist equipment and sometimes we are the only organisation who can safely rescue animals.
"These calls can also provide real life training opportunities, giving firefighters a chance to use specialist equipment to carry out rescues.
"However, our crews will always prioritise incidents which involve any risk to humans.”
The National Fire Chief's Council said a drop in the number of incidents nationally, from 558,000 to 518,000, was to be seen in the context of the restrictions brought in during the pandemic.
Chairman Mark Hardingham said: “Despite the huge amount of positive and proactive work carried out nationally and locally, incidents, and sometimes very serious incidents, do still happen.
"It is of critical importance that we maintain a well-resourced fire and rescue service to respond professionally and safely to national and local emergencies."