Meet the fire team with a monster truck and an army of very grateful four-legged friends.
Dozens of the 999 calls received by the Northamptonshire Fire & Rescue Service each year are related to animals.
And they’re usually found at the doorstep of Wellingborough Fire Station, where crews are specially trained in animal rescue.
Not that all animals need to be saved. Doris the Iguana, for example, was more than capable of looking after herself when she jumped on a passing firefighter to escape from a burning house in Corby earlier this year.
However, dogs, ducks, cats, swans, sheep, cows, and horses usually need a little more help.
White Watch Director in Wellingborough, Russ Thorne, helps teams train the dos and don’ts or rescue animals which can often be a lot more dangerous than you think!
He said: “We have just taken on a new role of working with dangerous dogs to help the RSPCA with their businesses and this is also something we can do to help the police when it comes to getting out. dogs from homes or drug dens.
âBut we will see mostly livestock incidents, although it will range from a cat rescue to big cows, sheep and pigs.
“There is no limit to the type of rescue we participate in, it’s very versatile.”
It’s not just cantankerous cats or flabby sheep that pose a danger to firefighters who are only trying to help. The risks of disease on farmland should be mitigated when rescuing heavier animals such as cows, and horses can cause serious injury if not performed properly.
This is where the busiest of all the county fire department’s special vehicles – the Unimog, which went out 113 times last year – comes in.
The five-seater, all-wheel-drive all-terrain beast weighs 14 tonnes and is such an efficient machine as it can cover the Northamptonshire countryside.
Russ added, âOne of the main reasons we have it is because of its off-road capabilities. Few brigades have one, especially not for rescuing animals like we do.
âAt the back of it we have the crane that we can use to lift animals stuck on the side or submerged in mud or in rivers or trenches.
âIt will go pretty much anywhere off-road. It works in all conditions, so flooding, icy roads, snow, whatever you want. Most of the rescues we go on will be on farms, so we need that off-road capability and that means we can go pretty much anywhere without getting stuck. It’s not the fastest appliance out there, but once it’s there it’s great.
Such is the reliability of the crew and the Unimog built by Mercedes-Benz, they are frequently called in to neighboring counties to help with animal rescue.
Russ continued, âThe facilities we have are excellent and we are trained to a high standard.
âWe’ve had an animal rescue unit here for a while, so we have knowledge and experience.
âEvery year, we evolve. We are extending our training, the guys are getting more experience and we are getting better and better.
“Any country in difficulty can call on us, and I think we are one of the best in the country at what we do.”