Animal Rescue CentreStaffordshire Fire and Rescue Service has launched its own specialist animal rescue training ground to improve the skills of specialist firefighters in the region.

The new training ground, on Forestry Commission land on Cannock Chase, enables Animal Rescue Teams to carry out realistic scenarios and hone rescue techniques. The training ground also features a life-size articulated horse mannequin.

The service estimates that they rescue around 40 large animals, including horses, cattle and deer every year. Incidents can include freeing animals trapped in machinery, bogs, slurry pits and pools, or following incidents on the road. The new training site enables firefighters to practice a number of different scenarios, including rescuing animals from holes, ditches and a horsebox.

Specialist animal rescue firefighters are based at two stations in the county – Leek to the north and Cannock in the south.  Team members have to undergo specialist training, carried out at Nantwich College, to learn about animal handling, psychology and how to deal with a distressed animal.

Animal Rescue Instructor, Tim Collis, said: “Staffordshire is predominantly a rural community and large animal rescue is recognised as one of the most dangerous activities a firefighter will be engaged in. It is essential, therefore, to ensure firefighters have specialist training and equipment so as to protect them and the animal, as well as members of the public who may be at risk of injury.

“Firefighters regularly use their skills to deal with a range of different rescues involving pets, livestock and wild animals.

“The development of large animal rescue within Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service is on-going. The new facility on Cannock Chase has been developed in partnership with the Forestry Commission and enables our teams at Cannock to maintain competency and skills so that we are appropriately prepared to respond to animal rescues in the future.”