Specialist animal and water rescue vehicles launched

Animal and water rescue vehicleAvon Fire & Rescue Service (AF&RS) has introduced two new vehicles into its fleet to assist firefighters responding to incidents involving water or animals.

The new Animal and Water Rescue Units are based at Bath and Bedminster fire stations and carry specialist equipment such as inflatable rescue paths, mud lances, animal rescue strops and harnesses, and a winch.

Since the vehicles were brought into service in February they have attended a range of incidents including the rescue of a woman from a car trapped in flood water and a donkey trapped in mud.

Station Manager Gary Weeks, who is the AF&RS animal rescue lead advisor, said: “To have vehicles which have been designed with the needs of those carrying out rescues involving animals and water is great news.

“Between April 2012 and March 2013 we attended 141 incidents where animals were in need of rescue, for example a cow unable to get out of a river, or a horse stuck in a ditch.

“As a fire and rescue service we are attending more incidents involving large animals so it is vital we have right training and equipment to ensure the welfare of those animals.

“The firefighters who ride the vehicles have been fully trained to ensure they are able to deal with the types of incidents we attend. The equipment and training is based on the national standard of best practice from the Chief Fire Officers’ Association’s animal rescue national practitioners’ forum and the British Equine Veterinary Association.”

Between April 2012 and March 2013 AF&RS crews responded to 61 incidents where people were in need of rescue or evacuation from water.

AF&RS Station Manager, Rob Seaman, said: “We have been called upon to deal with a number of incidents where people or animals are trapped in water. These new vehicles ensure we can respond to incidents of this nature quickly, with the correct equipment and without putting the lives of those involved and our own staff in further jeopardy.”