Animal expert rescues trapped seagull after 25 firefighters fail

Your Local Guardian: Adam Briddock leaving the ponds after rescuing the bird in Carshalton Adam Briddock leaving the ponds after rescuing the bird in Carshalton

How many firefighters does it take to save a drowning seagull from a 3ft deep pond?

Onlookers in Carshalton pondered this question after health and safety rules prevented 25 firefighters from saving a stricken bird, which had become tangled in a plastic bag.

The farcical scenes at Carshalton Ponds on Saturday saw five fire crews scrambled to save the adult herring gull, which was struggling to survive in the ponds after getting its foot caught in the bag.

But after a health and safety assessment when the five crews arrived shortly after 2pm, it was deemed it was not safe for firefighters to wade out in the waist-deep water to save the floundering bird.

After a stand-off, it was left to a wildlife centre volunteer to pull on his waders and walk out to save the bird.

Staff from the Riverside Animal Centre in Beddington were called out by the RSPCA to rescue the gull, instead of waiting for the arrival of a specialist London Fire Brigade water rescue unit so a “safe” rescue could take place.

Part-time staff member Adam Briddock, 20, part of the centre’s two-man team at the scene, pulled on a pair of waders and stepped out into the pond with a safety line, rescuing the bird and returning to shore within 10 minutes.

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”.

She said LFB arrived promptly after being requested to provide assistance because the RSPCA did not have suitable equipment to rescue the bird themselves.

But she said they left once they had assessed the situation they deemed it not appropriate for them to get involved.

She said: “We would like to thank the Riverside Animal Centre for their hard work in rescuing the gull, which we were delighted to hear was released the next day.”

Ted Burden, who runs the centre, 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 any more than waste deep.”

A fire service 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 source said: “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 the 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.”

Comments (17)

Please log in to enable comment sorting

12:47pm Thu 12 Apr 12

Crease2000 says...

Maybe just a gull, but perhaps also a potentially good training exercise for the LFB? What if it had been a child?
Maybe just a gull, but perhaps also a potentially good training exercise for the LFB? What if it had been a child? Crease2000
  • Score: 0

1:13pm Thu 12 Apr 12

PeterM says...

When I were a lad, we used to go scrumping for beer glasses thrown into the ponds from the nearby Greyhound and Coach & Horses. I still have a few, proper glasses with dimples and handles, none of this straight glasses nonsense.

We didn't worry about any El & Safety nonsense. The ponds aren't deep or fast flowing.

@Crease2000, as demonstrated recently elsewhere, they would have let the child drown until the specialist crews arrived.
When I were a lad, we used to go scrumping for beer glasses thrown into the ponds from the nearby Greyhound and Coach & Horses. I still have a few, proper glasses with dimples and handles, none of this straight glasses nonsense. We didn't worry about any El & Safety nonsense. The ponds aren't deep or fast flowing. @Crease2000, as demonstrated recently elsewhere, they would have let the child drown until the specialist crews arrived. PeterM
  • Score: 0

2:15pm Thu 12 Apr 12

bystander tolworth says...

Many years ago when my Grandfather worked for Carshalton District Council he erected the railings around the ponds and stood in the water to do so, I think his opinion of this situation would be unprintable!!!
Many years ago when my Grandfather worked for Carshalton District Council he erected the railings around the ponds and stood in the water to do so, I think his opinion of this situation would be unprintable!!! bystander tolworth
  • Score: 0

2:45pm Thu 12 Apr 12

Krissi says...

Well in the 70s I took a swim in there- just in the bridge side of the Island- even there I could just touch the bottom, and, when I slipped in at the steps in later life, because the algae rendered the last step, which unknown to me, sloped downwards, slippery I was able to get out and I was only wet from the hips down, fortunately it was a warm day and my skirt thin cotton, so I dried out quickly- only injury was my pride... some people are so scared of so called health and safety that they don't even try to do anything- but in all honesty there are plenty of bins close to the ponds themselves and people need to make better use of them then this situation would not have arisen in the first place
Well in the 70s I took a swim in there- just in the bridge side of the Island- even there I could just touch the bottom, and, when I slipped in at the steps in later life, because the algae rendered the last step, which unknown to me, sloped downwards, slippery I was able to get out and I was only wet from the hips down, fortunately it was a warm day and my skirt thin cotton, so I dried out quickly- only injury was my pride... some people are so scared of so called health and safety that they don't even try to do anything- but in all honesty there are plenty of bins close to the ponds themselves and people need to make better use of them then this situation would not have arisen in the first place Krissi
  • Score: 0

2:55pm Thu 12 Apr 12

Crease2000 says...

Well, I can understand the LFB not wanting to put the lives of their workers at risk for the sake of a seagull. They are clearly all munchkins nowadays that can't swim. Or don't want to get their toes wet.
Well, I can understand the LFB not wanting to put the lives of their workers at risk for the sake of a seagull. They are clearly all munchkins nowadays that can't swim. Or don't want to get their toes wet. Crease2000
  • Score: 0

3:00pm Thu 12 Apr 12

Michael Pantlin says...

This wimpish behaviour is making the Fire Brigade a laughing stock as well as putting at risk more caring people to risk their safety rescuing animals without the training, equipment and huge publicly provided resources of the London Fire Brigade. I think this is the fault of a risk-averse management rather than your average caring, brave fireperson.
They would not turn out last autumn to a starving kitten trapped in a tree in Royston Park though at the time they were parked round the corner in the car park of the Butterchurn Pub letting children sound the siren on a charity fundraiser. No worries then about one of the little darlings falling from the cab? If fire rescuers need "water training" then why are they failing to give it to them at each station: there are ponds, rivers and swimming pools everywhere so water incidents are not going to be rare events. If they need "water training" then why isn't it given to every fire station crew. If they are allowed to get away with the animal no can do attitude what's next on the management list: No fat people (their own fault, no heavy people (might strain my back), no people with diseases (might catch something), no elderly people (their time will soon be up anyway)? What message are they given to young people on animal welfare issues - they don't count for anything?
We pay for the salaries, training and equipment so get on and do your job or get out. LFB PR shut up, LFB management shape up. Or would you prefer to lock yourselves in your stations all day - took risky to venture out, might have a road accident?
This wimpish behaviour is making the Fire Brigade a laughing stock as well as putting at risk more caring people to risk their safety rescuing animals without the training, equipment and huge publicly provided resources of the London Fire Brigade. I think this is the fault of a risk-averse management rather than your average caring, brave fireperson. They would not turn out last autumn to a starving kitten trapped in a tree in Royston Park though at the time they were parked round the corner in the car park of the Butterchurn Pub letting children sound the siren on a charity fundraiser. No worries then about one of the little darlings falling from the cab? If fire rescuers need "water training" then why are they failing to give it to them at each station: there are ponds, rivers and swimming pools everywhere so water incidents are not going to be rare events. If they need "water training" then why isn't it given to every fire station crew. If they are allowed to get away with the animal no can do attitude what's next on the management list: No fat people (their own fault, no heavy people (might strain my back), no people with diseases (might catch something), no elderly people (their time will soon be up anyway)? What message are they given to young people on animal welfare issues - they don't count for anything? We pay for the salaries, training and equipment so get on and do your job or get out. LFB PR shut up, LFB management shape up. Or would you prefer to lock yourselves in your stations all day - took risky to venture out, might have a road accident? Michael Pantlin
  • Score: 0

6:06pm Thu 12 Apr 12

Cross Mummy says...

My husband's a firefighter in London and this kind of ridiculous health and safety nonsense is very frustrating for most firefighters who just want to do a decent job and help out. Unfortunately LBF has adopted these policies. However, with big cuts predicted for the fire service in London after the Olympics, the public better get used to this as there won't be enough fire engines to cover serious incidents in London, let alone seagulls in bags...
My husband's a firefighter in London and this kind of ridiculous health and safety nonsense is very frustrating for most firefighters who just want to do a decent job and help out. Unfortunately LBF has adopted these policies. However, with big cuts predicted for the fire service in London after the Olympics, the public better get used to this as there won't be enough fire engines to cover serious incidents in London, let alone seagulls in bags... Cross Mummy
  • Score: 0

6:36pm Thu 12 Apr 12

Sutton53 says...

This is not a health and safety issue for the fire-brigade it is a resource issue. What would happen if they were trying to rescue a bird and a call came through for a house-fire? This was a job for the R.S.P.C.A.....but they never seem to want to get involved. Of course if a child was involved the fire-brigade would go in and help along with every passer-by.
This is not a health and safety issue for the fire-brigade it is a resource issue. What would happen if they were trying to rescue a bird and a call came through for a house-fire? This was a job for the R.S.P.C.A.....but they never seem to want to get involved. Of course if a child was involved the fire-brigade would go in and help along with every passer-by. Sutton53
  • Score: 0

6:53pm Thu 12 Apr 12

Crease2000 says...

If it's not a resource issue, then why did 25 fire fighters turn up? But I do agree with your point, they are governed by the policies enforced upon them.
If it's not a resource issue, then why did 25 fire fighters turn up? But I do agree with your point, they are governed by the policies enforced upon them. Crease2000
  • Score: 0

6:54pm Thu 12 Apr 12

Crease2000 says...

Scrap the word 'not' in the above. I meant "If it IS a resource issue".
Scrap the word 'not' in the above. I meant "If it IS a resource issue". Crease2000
  • Score: 0

7:15pm Thu 12 Apr 12

PeterM says...

@sutton53 I have to disagree. Even if it were a child they would have adopted the same attitude, and left them to die.

In March a man drowned in Gosport because the firemen weren't trained to go into the water. The lake was half a metre deep at the edge and a metre deep in the middle. I appreciate that it's not the indibidual firemen that are deciding this, but something has to be done, and soon.
@sutton53 I have to disagree. Even if it were a child they would have adopted the same attitude, and left them to die. In March a man drowned in Gosport because the firemen weren't trained to go into the water. The lake was half a metre deep at the edge and a metre deep in the middle. I appreciate that it's not the indibidual firemen that are deciding this, but something has to be done, and soon. PeterM
  • Score: 0

3:19am Fri 13 Apr 12

Liz2076 says...

A gull today a child tomorrow. H&S have a lot to answer for. A man drowns in Gosport earlier this year while firemen had to standby and watch, waiting for a specialist team to arrive. H&S say it's unsafe for them to wade into a few feet of water. What are fire fighters allowed to do. Morale for those in the front line must be at an all time low thanks to H&S.
A gull today a child tomorrow. H&S have a lot to answer for. A man drowns in Gosport earlier this year while firemen had to standby and watch, waiting for a specialist team to arrive. H&S say it's unsafe for them to wade into a few feet of water. What are fire fighters allowed to do. Morale for those in the front line must be at an all time low thanks to H&S. Liz2076
  • Score: 0

3:42am Fri 13 Apr 12

Liz2076 says...

I thought the emergency services were streched to the limit. So why were five vehicles, twenty five firemen from three stations
despatched to stand about for an hour to do nothing. A LFB spokesman defend the numbers sent as it's their priority to protect the firefighters. In this instance from what, getting their feet wet.
I thought the emergency services were streched to the limit. So why were five vehicles, twenty five firemen from three stations despatched to stand about for an hour to do nothing. A LFB spokesman defend the numbers sent as it's their priority to protect the firefighters. In this instance from what, getting their feet wet. Liz2076
  • Score: 0

7:13am Fri 13 Apr 12

biscuit67 says...

From local paper to national news - quite a few of the early comments have made it into a Daily Mail article today.
From local paper to national news - quite a few of the early comments have made it into a Daily Mail article today. biscuit67
  • Score: 0

8:44am Fri 13 Apr 12

Michael Pantlin says...

Sutton53 wrote:
This is not a health and safety issue for the fire-brigade it is a resource issue. What would happen if they were trying to rescue a bird and a call came through for a house-fire? This was a job for the R.S.P.C.A.....but they never seem to want to get involved. Of course if a child was involved the fire-brigade would go in and help along with every passer-by.
They have radios. They can be diverted to another job if necessary or should I say diverted to another risk assessment.
[quote][p][bold]Sutton53[/bold] wrote: This is not a health and safety issue for the fire-brigade it is a resource issue. What would happen if they were trying to rescue a bird and a call came through for a house-fire? This was a job for the R.S.P.C.A.....but they never seem to want to get involved. Of course if a child was involved the fire-brigade would go in and help along with every passer-by.[/p][/quote]They have radios. They can be diverted to another job if necessary or should I say diverted to another risk assessment. Michael Pantlin
  • Score: 0

12:28pm Fri 13 Apr 12

Michael Pantlin says...

Liz2076 wrote:
A gull today a child tomorrow. H&S have a lot to answer for. A man drowns in Gosport earlier this year while firemen had to standby and watch, waiting for a specialist team to arrive. H&S say it's unsafe for them to wade into a few feet of water. What are fire fighters allowed to do. Morale for those in the front line must be at an all time low thanks to H&S.
The result would have been the same even if they hone of their ad been holding one of their strike days "for the good of the public".
[quote][p][bold]Liz2076[/bold] wrote: A gull today a child tomorrow. H&S have a lot to answer for. A man drowns in Gosport earlier this year while firemen had to standby and watch, waiting for a specialist team to arrive. H&S say it's unsafe for them to wade into a few feet of water. What are fire fighters allowed to do. Morale for those in the front line must be at an all time low thanks to H&S.[/p][/quote]The result would have been the same even if they hone of their ad been holding one of their strike days "for the good of the public". Michael Pantlin
  • Score: 0

4:34pm Fri 13 Apr 12

Yaffle1 says...

Of course they wouldn't rescue a seagull - it was only a month or so ago they refused to go into a lake somewhere else and try and rescue someone who drowned in 3ft of water, because they weren't properly trained. I hope my house never catches fire, it will have burnt down by the time they have completed their risk assessment.
Of course they wouldn't rescue a seagull - it was only a month or so ago they refused to go into a lake somewhere else and try and rescue someone who drowned in 3ft of water, because they weren't properly trained. I hope my house never catches fire, it will have burnt down by the time they have completed their risk assessment. Yaffle1
  • Score: 0

Comments are closed on this article.

click2find

About cookies

We want you to enjoy your visit to our website. That's why we use cookies to enhance your experience. By staying on our website you agree to our use of cookies. Find out more about the cookies we use.

I agree