Newham firefighters rescued 11 animals in danger last year

Cats up trees may soon be a distant memory for firefighters as the number of animals rescued by crews in Newham has halved since last year.

The figures echo a city-wide trend as the London Fire Brigade were called out to 282 animal rescues in 2012/13 - the lowest number since records began in 1999.

There were 650 animal rescues in 2011/12 which meant the capital’s firefighters saved an animal every 13 hours.

In Newham, fire crews were called out to 23 animal emergencies in 2011/12 but this number has dropped to only 11 - by 52 per cent - in 2012/13.

The LFB credit this decline in animal crises to a campaign they launched in July last year called “I’m an Animal, Get Me Out of Here” which highlighted some of the more unusual rescues attended by firefighters to encourage people to call the RSPCA in the first instance rather than 999.

High-profile animal rescues in Newham include ducklings that fell down a drain near Newham City Farm in Beckton who were saved by firefighters from Plaistow station on Thursday August 1; a cat stuck on a roof in Jenkins Road in Plaistow on July 6; and a kitten with its head stuck in a bongo drum in October 2009.

Each rescue costs the Brigade at least £290 and the Brigade said the drop in incidents has saved taxpayers over £100,000.

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Mark Hazelton, LFB group manager, said: “It’s excellent news that the number of animal rescues has fallen and that people have clearly taken heed of our advice. Who knows, perhaps firefighters rescuing cats from trees may soon be a thing of the past.

“I’d still like to remind people that if they see an animal stuck somewhere, the first port of call should always be the RSPCA, not the emergency services. When firefighters are out rescuing animals, they’re not available to attend real emergencies.

“As well as being time consuming, animal rescues cost the tax payer and I’m sure most people would prefer their money was being spent on training or fire prevention work, than cats up trees.”

The LFB was keen to point out that it will always attend when called out to real emergencies.

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