Firefighter calls for better animal rescue plans

Four firefighters and an instructor look at a model of a horse lying on the floor
Firefighters like Mick Titcombe undergo specialist training in animal rescue [Northamptonshire Fire and Rescue]

A firefighter has been urging rescue services to prepare to help animals caught up in climate emergencies such as floods, fires and droughts.

Mick Titcombe, from Northamptonshire, was a key speaker at an international conference dedicated to improving the response to incidents involving animals.

He told delegates that many emergency plans focused entirely on humans, with very little thought about the needs of animals as the climate crisis deepens.

His chief fire officer said "his passion for improving this area of work is an inspiration to us all".

Northamptonshire's Fire and Rescue Service said its Animal Rescue Unit was one of the busiest appliances in the county, with the service attending more than 80 animal rescues in the 2023/24 financial year.

It is based at Wellingborough, where Mr Titcombe has been a long-serving firefighter.

Man in hard hat attempts to secure belts to a horse in water
Mick Titcombe has attended many animal rescues including this one of a horse stuck in water [Northamptonshire Fire and Rescue Service]

Giving a key speech at the conference of the British Animal Rescue and Trauma Care Association, Mr Titcombe shared the research he had been carrying out on how prepared the UK was for incidents involving animals in climate emergencies.

He said: "Climate change is bringing new risks with it to our communities, and so as a fire service we need to adapt to those changes.

"Much of the emergency response models for flooding are focused on human rescue with minimal awareness, equipment, knowledge and experience of rescuing animals from water.

“I want to change this, and hopefully speaking at the conference has been a way of helping to influence the change we need in this country."

Mick Titcombe with short brown hair next to an animal cage
Mr Titcombe has a passion for animals and even has his own smallholding [Northamptonshire Fire and Rescue]

Last year, Mr Titcombe received a grant for a research trip to Australia and the USA, where he was able to train with crews in both countries and study how they deal with animal rescues during climate emergencies.

Chief fire officer, Nicci Watson, said: "We are very proud of Mick and the work he is doing to improve our response to animal rescue in climate emergencies, not just here in Northamptonshire, but in helping the lead the way nationally."

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