London Fire Brigade's Animal Rescues Declining

The biggest UK fire department hopes emergency calls to rescue animals will disappear.

The London Fire Brigade hopes the days of its firefighters rescuing cats from trees may soon end. Recent numbers show the brigade's rescues have dropped by half. The 2012 total was 282 animal rescues -- the lowest number since the brigade began collecting the data in 1999; the prior year’s total was 650, meaning firefighters rescued an animal every 13 hours.

The reduction has saved taxpayers about $156,000 in the past year.

The brigade launched an "I'm An Animal, Get Me Out of Here" campaign in July 2012, showcasing its most unusual animal rescues, trying to reduce the number of emergency calls. The campaign asked people to call the RSPCA instead of calling the emergency number, which is 999.

Thus far in 2013, the brigade's personnel have rescued 173 animals.

"It's excellent news that the number of animal rescues has fallen and that people have clearly taken heed of our advice. Who knows, perhaps firefighters rescuing cats from trees may soon be a thing of the past," said London Fire Brigade Group Manager Mark Hazelton. "I'd still like to remind people that if they see an animal stuck somewhere, the first port of call should always be the RSPCA, not the emergency services. When firefighters are out rescuing animals, they’'e not available to attend real emergencies. As well as being time consuming, animal rescues cost the taxpayer, and I'm sure most people would prefer their money was being spent on training or fire prevention work, than cats up trees."

Each rescue costs the brigade at least $450.

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