South Yorkshire firefighters tackle 1,400 ‘special’ rescues a year

Firefighters helping to deal with a flooding incident
Firefighters helping to deal with a flooding incident

Animal rescues, broken lifts, flooding and car crashes account for 1,400 firefighter call-outs a year in South Yorkshire.

Fire chiefs have released new figures to highlight the sheer number of ‘special service’ incidents they deal with on top of blazes.

Firefighters helping to rescue a bull

Firefighters helping to rescue a bull

They deal with an average of 1,400 road collisions, animal rescues, flooding problems, lift releases and water rescues in an average year, on top of 5,000 fires.

South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service’s Chief Fire Officer James Courtney said the incidents are just as important as those where crews extinguish flames.

“Government officials may see our success in reducing house fires by a third in the last 10 years, and assume it is easy to make cuts, but the ‘rescue’ element of our name is as important as ‘fire’,” he said.

In the last few weeks alone, firefighters have rescued a horse from a river in Smithies, Barnsley, and a bull from a ditch in Thorne, Doncaster.

They were called to help rescue a man on a mobility scooter stranded in a muddy field near Edlington, Doncaster, and were on stand-by in case of explosions after weapons and grenades were found in a home in Penistone.

Crews were also called to rescue a teenage boy stuck in a in a pile of agricultural lime near allotment plots off Manchester Road, Rivelin Valley, Sheffield.

Mr Courtney said: “It’s easy to forget the vast range of incidents firefighters get called to deal with. Although our community safety work has reduced fires significantly in recent years, we still get called to an enormous range of incidents, many of which require highly specialised skills, equipment and training.”

The fire service is also warning residents to dial 999 only in genuine emergencies.

Over recent weeks crews’ time was wasted by a caller asking them to fix a faulty washing machine and help somebody else with boiler problems.

One caller dialled 999 to report a burst water pipe in their hotel room.

Mr Courtney added: “As much as there are many types of incidents we do attend, people still need to understand that we are an emergency service and they should only call if they really need us.

“We’re not here to help fix something in the home, unlock the front door or do any plumbing.”