Nottinghamshire Fire and Rescue Service has joined over 40 other fire and rescue services across the country in adopting new national guidelines for the rescue of animals.
In line with national systems of work agreed by the Chief Fire Officers' Association Animal Rescue Practitioners Working Group, members of the service's Specialist Rescue Team (SRT) are now trained to Level 2 Animal Rescue Operative level, while four members of the team are also trained as Level 3 Animal Rescue Specialists. All operational crews will soon receive Level 1 Animal Awareness training to give them a greater range of skills and knowledge when carrying out rescues involving animals.
The move comes as national guidelines place more emphasis on crew and public safety, as well as animal welfare, in what are often distressing, and sometimes extremely dangerous, situations.
Station Manager Colin Poyzer, who heads the SRT, told FIRE: "As a service, we have always rescued animals, but the emphasis now is very much on safety. We might be rescuing animals from a house or farm fire, coralling large numbers of animals in a stressful environment, or rescuing individual animals in challenging situations.
"The training teaches specific techniques, animal behaviour and characteristics, how to approach animals and keep them calm, and the consequences of certain actions. An animal such as a cow or horse can be an expensive commodity, and may be someone's livelihood. People can often put themselves at risk by attempting to rescue a pet or animal so it's important for us to use our skills to ensure the situation doesn't get any worse, either for the animals or the people involved."
In addition to their initial training, members of the Specialist Rescue Team are continuing to develop their skills by practicing animal rescue in a range of realistic scenarios using a three-quarter size, 250kg training horse. This eliminates the need to outsource further training and will equip the SRT to add to the animal rescue awareness training delivered to firefighting crews, who will also attend animal rescue incidents.
The SRT is also working closely with the police, Highways Agency, Nottingham Trent University and local vets in order to share best practice, and develop a better understanding of the work of the fire and rescue service at animal rescue incidents.
Posted: 10.38am, 28.03.11