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Fire service calls to help trapped animals and remove 'stuck objects' increase

Firefighters in West Midlands were called to more incidents involving stuck objects and stranded animals last year, despite an overall fall in callouts amid the coronavirus pandemic, figures show.

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Crews attended hundreds of non-fire jobs.

Home Office data shows 598 such calls were made to the West Midlands Fire Service in the year to March – 100 more than the year before.

They included 167 calls to help animals who found themselves in trouble and 431 callouts to remove objects from people.

Across England the number of times firefighters were drafted in to help animals increased from 4,724 to 5,159 over the year.

The most common reason was to help a trapped pet, which was quoted in a fifth of incidents attended nationally, closely followed by rescuing pets from a height.

Animal charity the RSPCA said its staff rescues tens of thousands of stuck or trapped animals every year.

Steve Bennett, deputy chief inspectorate officer, said: "While our staff are trained and equipped to help a lot of them out of trouble, there may be some situations where they need a helping hand to ensure both the rescuers and the animals remain safe.

"We can request the assistance of the fire and rescue service just like any member of the public can do, and we're incredibly grateful to crews across England and Wales who are animal-lovers just like us and will always lend a hand to help an animal in need if they're available."

The number of people requiring help with stuck objects also increased nationally from 5,311 to 5,632.

Two-thirds of incidents saw someone needing help removing a ring, while trapped limbs accounted for 16% of calls.

Overall, West Midlands firefighters attended 25,280 incidents in 2020-21 – including 9,598 fires – down from 25,944 the year before.

They included 6,566 non-fire related incidents, which may be related to flooding, assisting people trapped in lifts and road traffic accidents.

The National Fire Chief's Council said a drop in the number of incidents nationally, from 558,000 to 518,000, was to be seen in the context of the restrictions brought in during the pandemic.

Chairman Mark Hardingham said: “Despite the huge amount of positive and proactive work carried out nationally and locally, incidents, and sometimes very serious incidents, do still happen.

"It is of critical importance that we maintain a well-resourced fire and rescue service to respond professionally and safely to national and local emergencies."