‘Fireman Sam’ led an hour-long daring rescue of a pigeon that was stuck in a tree in Surbiton.
Firefighters toiled for almost an hour to save the trapped bird, which had become tangled in wire and was dangling from a tree in Catherine Road yesterday evening.
A Surbiton fire crew had to use a makeshift pole with a tied-on Stanley knife to cut free the pigeon in peril, with a firefighter cheered on as 'Sam' bravely climbing the ladder.
The bird was spotted by former Surrey Comet reporter turned curtain twitcher Rachael Burford’s eagle-eyed flatmate, who was left “almost in tears” as the drama unfolded.
Miss Burford said: “At about 5pm my housemate came running in the kitchen distraught about a pigeon stuck in the tree.
“It had fishing line or something stuck to its foot and it had got caught on a branch at the same height as our bedroom windows, about four storeys up.
“It was swinging upside down and looking really defeated.”
Miss Burford rang the RSPCA, which then contacted London Fire Brigade (LFB) to send a crew to rescue the pigeon.
One fire engine from Surbiton fire station attended, but could not get near to the trapped bird with their ladder.
It wasn’t until firefighter Sam, as he was referred to by the crew, tied a Stanley knife to a large pole when the pigeon was rescued and handed over to the RSPCA.
Miss Burford added: “They couldn't get the ladder anywhere near the bird and they all disappeared to the engine to come up with a plan B.
“Anyway, the fireman scaled the ladder again and tried to poke the branch down. But it was too thick and wouldn't budge despite his repeated attempts.
“They modified the pole and gaffer taped the knife onto the end of their big stick.
“He managed to cut through the fishing line and the pigeon sort of fell to the ground. We thought the trauma had killed it for sure but then the fireman announced it was alive.
“They all shouted 'come on Sam' and 'well done Sam' when he finally got it down.”
Overall it took almost two hours from calling the RSPCA to seeing the bird rescued, which despite surviving the fall from the tree witnesses say may have lost a leg.
Miss Burford said: "He came back down and we thought for sure the pigeon was a gonner. My housemate was on the verge of tears.
"Surbiton firefighters are heroes. They should be proud."
A spokeswoman for LFB said: “We were called at 6.20pm to a pigeon struggling in a tree with wire around its feet.
“One pigeon was released from the tree.”
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