By JR on Friday, April 13, 2012
The men who built the empire would be disgusted by these pansies
It must have looked like a major catastrophe unfolding as 25 firefighters descended on the scene. But this was no terrorist atrocity or terrible car crash – the five teams of emergency crews had been scrambled to rescue a stranded seagull from a three foot deep pond.
And matters became even more farcical, when the emergency crews were rendered utterly powerless to act because of health and safety rules prevented them from 'risking their lives' by venturing into the waist deep waters.
Instead they watched helplessly as staff from a nearby wildlife centre pulled on his waders, paddled out to the stricken Herring Gull, and freed its foot from a plastic bag.
Ten minutes later, Adam Briddock, 20, part of the two man team, returned safely to shore at Carshalton Ponds, in South London, with the gull in good health on Saturday.
London Fire Brigade said they were ‘not willing to put the lives of our firefighters at risk for the sake of a seagull’.
Ted Burden, who runs Riverside Animal Centre in Beddington, said: ‘It was a bit ridiculous really. Five fire crews turned up, but because of protocols they couldn’t go into the water. ‘It is health and safety gone mad really when you look at it, because the water was not really anymore than waist deep.’
A member of the public became so concerned for the welfare of a bird they went home to get an inflatable boat in a bid to go out on the water themselves, but the craft was found not to be water-worthy.
An RSPCA spokeswoman described the situation at the ponds as ‘quite a scene.’
A fire source said firefighters were sometimes frustrated by strict protocols, like not rescuing trapped birds, which sometimes did not fit actual scenarios firefighters were presented with.
The fire source added: ‘Although we have the facilities to effect a rescue, we are not allowed to do it for a bird. There is no leeway.’
The adult gull was taken back to the centre, dried out and fed, before it was released back into the wild the next day.
A LFB spokesman defended the numbers of firefighters sent out, saying it was a standard response to an animal being in trouble, and the firefighters were on hand in case a member of public had tried to rescue the birds or the water rescue team had got into trouble.
She added: ‘We are not willing to put the lives of our firefighters at risk for the sake of a seagull. Our firefighters get called out to lots of different incidents and never know what they’re going to find when they get there.
'At any incident we need to make sure we have enough staff on hand in case something goes wrong and to ensure that our firefighters, and the public, are safe at all times.’