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A roe deer down a well, a buzzard on a pole and a cat behind a cooker - the animals rescued by Norfolk firefighters in 2018

PUBLISHED: 12:22 02 January 2019 | UPDATED: 17:07 02 January 2019

Cat stuck on a roof in Park Road, Cromer.
Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Cat stuck on a roof in Park Road, Cromer. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Archant Norfolk 2014

The image of the heroic firefighter clambering up a tree to the aid of a calamitous kitten is one that has filled comic strips and cartoons for decades.

Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service trainee firefighters taking part in an animal handling course at Easton and Otley College. Picture: Charlotte Williams.Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service trainee firefighters taking part in an animal handling course at Easton and Otley College. Picture: Charlotte Williams.

However, it was far more than frivolous felines that required the help of Norfolk’s fire and rescue service in 2018, with more than 100 blighted beasts being aided.

And while there were several of the usual moggy suspects, firefighters also rushed to the aid of - among others - deer, horses and even a buzzard.

Among the standout rescues performed by Norfolk’s team were a roe deer down a well, a sheep that had fallen into a river near the University of East Anglia and a buzzard trapped by the leg atop a 20ft pole.

Alan Jaye, chairman of the Norfolk Fire Brigades Union, said the county’s rural nature led to it being called upon for these events more than others.

Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service trainee firefighters taking part in an animal handling course at Easton and Otley College. Picture: Charlotte Williams.Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service trainee firefighters taking part in an animal handling course at Easton and Otley College. Picture: Charlotte Williams.

Mr Jaye, who has 30 years of experience in the service, said: “Being a rural county, a large number of our animal rescues tend to be cattle which always tend to be very methodical tasks.

“You also often find deer in predicaments - they particularly seem to love railings, try and weave through them and get stuck.”

However, it is the cases that involve either domesticated animals or horses that prove the most rewarding.

He said: “People are particularly protective of their horses, so are very distressed themselves when you arrived and can be very precious about the way you handle them. The horses often give up the ghost in sticky situations so it can be a big challenge.

A muntjac deer in a garden near the centre of King's Lynn   Picture: Chris BishopA muntjac deer in a garden near the centre of King's Lynn Picture: Chris Bishop

“It is the same with domesticated animals like cats and dogs - they are part of people’s families, so you get such gratitude.

“For me, there are few better feelings than knowing you’ve saved an animal’s life - particularly when they are somebody’s pet. It’s a big part of why you do the job to begin with.”

Among the other rescues tasked in 2018 were a dog which had ended up stuck near a river after chasing a cat, another dog stuck in recliner chair and a cat which had spent two days stuck on a roof.

Kitty the Cat

A buzzard was rescued by Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service in 2018. Picture: James BassA buzzard was rescued by Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service in 2018. Picture: James Bass

Animal rescues have a special place in the heart of Mr Jaye, after one led to a new addition to his family seven years ago.

In 2011, while working in Great Yarmouth, Mr Jaye was tasked with rescuing a family of three kittens which had become trapped behind an oil tank outbuilding.

The kittens had been abandoned by their mother and left crying for help in the disused - but still oily - structure.

The kittens were looked after at Broadland Cattery for a week, before Mr Jaye decided to adopt one, which his daughter Siobhan named Kitty.

Firefighter Alan Jaye, pictured in 2011 with Kitty the cat  Photo: Andy DarnellFirefighter Alan Jaye, pictured in 2011 with Kitty the cat Photo: Andy Darnell

Kitty remained a key part of the Jaye family until recently, when she died in a car accident.

Mr Jaye said: “She was such a lovely cat and ended up having such a happy life with us, after being found in such a horrible situation. We were incredibly sad to lose her.”

In numbers

Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service’s animal rescue team had a busy year in 2018, being called upon more than 160 times.

Up until November 27, they were called upon 161 times to come to the aid of an animal in distress; though their services were not required at all of the incidents.

With it costing the service £150 for each unit sent to an animal’s aid, the annual cost for the service was £8,550.

This saw 2018 eclipsing the previous two years in terms of the number of times it was called to rescue an animal.

In 2017, there were 128 incidents, coming at a cost of £5,700. In 2016 there were 138 rescue, costing £7050.

Among 2017’s rescues were a fox trapped in barbed wire, a cat trapped behind a dresser and five ducklings down a drain.

In 2016, firefighters assisted a deer on a dual carriageway, a cat in a cavity wall and jackdaw which had spent a week in somebody’s chimney breast.

Ten of the best

While there are too many on the list to mention, here are just some of the most eye-catching incidents firefighters dealt with.

January 23: Dog stuck near a river after chasing a cat and ending up along the riverbank (King’s Lynn)

February 2: Unspecified bird stuck in an extractor hood (Loddon)

March 28: Pigeon dangling upside down from a branch over a road (Heacham)

May 29: Kitten stuck in a living room cavity wall (Massingham)

June 11: Rabbit trapped behind a gas fireplace (Watton)

August 1: Cat stuck behind a cooker (Martham)

August 12: Muntjac deer stuck between two garages (Sheringham)

October 17: Buzzard trapped up a 20ft pole by its leg (Wroxham)

October 21: Roe deer stuck in a well, 12-15ft down (Watton)

November 27: Cat who spent two days stuck on a roof (Gorleston)

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