Large animal rescue 4x4 to cost £200K

FIRE chiefs in Essex are set to splash out £200,000 on special equipment to help rescue large animals that could also be used to move obese people in emergencies.

Elliot Furniss

FIRE chiefs in Essex are set to splash out £200,000 on special equipment to help rescue large animals that could also be used to move obese people in emergencies.

The county's fire authority is expected to rubber stamp the purchase of an off-road appliance with “independent lifting capability” to recover animals such as horses and cows when they become trapped.

In 2007 Essex County Fire and Rescue Service (ECFRS) crews were called to 84 large animal rescue incidents, 66 of which involved horses.


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Currently a rescue pump and a rescue tender are sent to such calls but the new set-up could help reduce the risk of accidents.

Although the rescue of large animals does not specifically fall under the service's remit, the equipment would help free up appliances for other incidents.

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At a meeting of Essex Fire Authority's challenge and innovation committee this week, a final report by Chief Fire Officer David Johnson will be considered that claims failure to provide the service is “not a realistic option”.

In the report, he says: “Dealing safely with large animal rescues is an issue which is growing for many fire and rescue services across the country as well as the Fire Brigades Union both locally and nationally.

“There is no statutory duty compelling this activity but it is undertaken by the vast majority of Fire and Rescue Services, ECFRS included, and presents a significant range of hazards that must be considered within an overall safe system of work.

“A dedicated specialist large animal rescue capability within the county would remove the need for the attendance of the rescue tender.”

Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service already has two “Unimog” specialist 4x4 vehicles and Essex Fire Authority's Large Animal Rescue Task and Finish Group found such a vehicle would benefit the county.

The report states that the vehicle could also be used for the safe movement of “bariatric” people - very large adults - the handling of whom is already presenting problems for the rescue services.

The Unimog would also assist in the movement of off-road equipment and pumping at large incidents at hard-to-reach locations, such as rail crashes, as well as helping in “wildland firefighting”.

The challenge and innovation committee will meet in Kelvedon on Wednesday where it will recommend to back the investment in the new equipment after a provision was made earlier in the year in the capital programme for 2008/09.

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