Norwich seagull rescue causes flap nationwide

Attempts by firefighters to free a seagull trapped in a Norwich tree has caused a flap nationwide today.

Norfolk Fire and Rescue sent one crew to help the distressed bird stuck in twigs near Norwich Market in Gentleman's Walk.

But back-up was required due to the seagulls lofty location, with an aerial platform called out along with a third crew to support the ladder team. It is believed at least 15 firefighters helped free the bird.

BBC Radio 2's Jeremy Vine chose to debate the rescue during his early afternoon programme today.

Among other issues, including getting over a murder, metal thefts and capitalism, the host opened his show with: 'How many Norwich firefighters does it take to rescue a seagull trapped in a tree? Well the real answer is 15.'

The RSPCA alerted firefighters to the problem just after 3pm yesterday.

And the mission came just days after the county's fire and rescue service vowed to review what sort of calls they deal with in 2012.

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This was after firefighters were called to rescue more than 400 animals in Norfolk in the last three years, with the service now needing to make almost �4m worth of savings over three years.

The debate on whether or not fire officials had made the right decision to attend also raged on the Evening News website.

Peter Trett commented: 'Do we take it from this recent incident that the review is still on going? If so may I suggest they get on with it pronto as they are fast becoming total laughing stock.'

Nrg questioned why nature had been interfered with. They said: 'The bird would've broken free eventually and probably flown off, none the worse.'

And Blister warned: 'If this kind of story gets to the BBC or makes national news it will make Norwich a laughing stock and seem like a backward place full of simpletons.'

A spokesman for the RSPCA said the group has a duty to attend all emergency call-outs involving animals 'regardless of their species', but in some cases their inspectors are not able to carry out the rescue.

They added it is the fire service's decision as to whether they agree to attend and in this instance the seagull was 'stuck some 40ft up in a tree', with a wing impaled on a branch.

Mike McCarthy, deputy chief fire officer, said the rescue took 15 minutes once the aerial ladder arrived.

He said: 'I can understand why our response to this incident may have seemed overboard and can understand some of the reaction. It is right to say that we are currently reviewing our response to animal rescues and will take this work forward over the coming months.

'The firefighters remained on call and available at all times to respond to any other incident that may have occurred. They were also wholetime firefighters who already on duty.'

Mr McCarthy added fire crews always deal with human life risk ahead of everything else and their efforts to free the seagull prevented people putting themselves at risk by trying their own rescue.