There have been press reports, including one of the on the front page of the Daily Mail, concerning a group of fireman being summoned to rescue a seagull and being unable to do so due to health and safety regulations.
Cllr Brian Coleman, Chairman of the London Fire Brigade and a Conservative member of the London Assembly, responds as follows:
A call was received from the RSPCA – not a member of the public. The brigade takes calls from the RSPCA seriously because they are uncommon and they are normally justified. On this occasion, when the firefighters arrived they quickly saw that this was not such an occasion. They told the RSPCA officer this and left. The brigade was only on-site for around seven minutes – not 60 minutes as suggested in some articles. Firefighters were not stopped from entering the water due to any health and safety reason.
In contrast, I have been made aware of an incident that happened earlier this week where the brigade went over and above their normal duties to save a man’s life. On Tuesday, firefighters were called to rescue a man after the bulldozer he was driving fell 40 feet down a bank into a quarry pit. The man’s life was at risk and he needed to be rescued very quickly and so the firefighters risked their own safety to lift him out and save his life.
Firefighters are trained to make difficult decisions and I believe that these two incidents actually demonstrate that London firefighters take these decisions carefully and appropriately.