ROLL up, roll up for animal rescue training with a
Firefighters from Heywood Fire Station were given a once in a
lifetime opportunity when they were invited train at the
White Watch crews swapped the large plastic horse which they
usually train with for a variety of real-life circus animals
including zebras, lamas, camels and reindeers.
The crews had visited Circus Mondeo in Heywood a couple of weeks
ago to carry out a safety check and highlight any hazards on the
site which could pose a danger to operational crews.
When they arrived, the firefighters got chatting to the owner of
the circus and the ring mistress, telling the two ladies about the
animal training which all Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue
Service (GMFRS) crews are required to carry out on a basic
The crews also explained that Heywood is one of just two
stations in the organisation with specialist large animal and water
rescue teams and carry out more advances training on a regular
These teams are called out to any large animal rescue, usually
involving water, where human life could be put in danger.
Watch Manager Mark Bamford, from Heywood White Watch, said:
"After collating all the information as to what hazards were on
site at Circus Mondeo, we began to build up a really good rapport
the circus people explaining the work we do with animals.
"Then they invited us to get involved with the animals which
included zebras, camels, lamas, reindeers and horses of various
"We incorporated this into our animal rescue training which took
place over two days - it was a thoroughly educational experience
and also one which was probably a once in a lifetime experience,
giving ops crews a better understanding of the characteristics and
mannerisms of various animals."
The firefighters were able to use the animal rescue equipment
off the Water Incident Unit and were also given alternative methods
to achieve what was required.
As a bonus, the crews also completed 11 Home Safety Checks in
the sleeping trailers of the travelling community associated with
Crews from Heywood and Eccles - who specialise in large animal
rescues - train regularly in all weather conditions to prepare for
Austin Lewis - from GMFRS' Training and Development Centre - who
delivers the animal rescue training, said: "When dealing with large
animals there are a number of risks involved, both to the animal
and the crews, and the general public if they are at the
"The majority of our large animal incidents happen around water,
or mud, or ice and there's usually a member of the public or a
farmer around who has a close relationship to the animal so the
crew has to keep them away from the animal for their own
"We work with the RSPCA who have been on these courses and have
an understanding of what we do, and BEVA (British Equine Veterinary
Association) and we work to CFOA (Chief Fire Officers' Association)