Horse rescue

Modern Firefighting – Animal Rescue

By Dave Matthews, Technical Services Watch Manager

As the role of a firefighter changes, so does the variety of incidents we respond to. Now, it is not just people that we will be called to help.

Traditionally, personnel from Avon Fire Brigade had always rescued both small and large animals as part of their duties under Special Service arrangements.

In 2004, we became Avon Fire and Rescue Service (AF&RS) and this formalised the way we dealt with animal rescue as a service.  

AF&RS decided to invest in specialist equipment, vehicles, and a training programme for all operational personnel to be trained in the basics of animal behaviour.

This also includes incident command and how to make the scene safe before the arrival of the animal rescue team.

These animal rescue teams come from Bath and Bedminster fire stations and are trained in all types of animal rescue on dry land and in water.

Their training takes place at Horse World, Lackham College and various sites throughout the service area.

After information has been gathered by control, the correct animal trained response team will be sent to the incident.

This could be a small animal trapped in domestic furniture or multiple large animals involved in a road traffic collision.

Generally, our large animal incidents will involve horses or cattle that are trapped in water, mud or sinkholes but we do encounter wild animals such as deer, fox and various types of birds.

Our Animal Rescue Teams can deal with the smallest of pets up to four-ton elephants.

AF&RS is looking forward to adding other specialist animal rescue equipment to the service over the coming years, which will allow us to respond to a wider variety of incidents.

We work alongside the Police, RSPCA, local vets and HorseWorld to offer them highly trained personnel who are passionate about the welfare of all animals.