I have the highest regard for the fire brigade. They are brave and splendid. Those chaps in New York who rushed up the Twin Towers are beyond superlatives for their selflessness.
However. Take a modern British fireman away from a fire and ask him to, oh I don't know - get his ankles wet saving a seagull from distress, and he's as much use as an ashtray on a motorbike.
Why did FIVE crews answer the emergency call and descend on Carshalton Ponds? One gets the impression they were ready, willing and able to throw caution to the wind, risk a nasty cold by allowing some pond water to slosh over the top of their wellies, maybe even take a painful peck on the wrist from Jonathan Livingstone Seagull whilst wrestling with his foot and the Tesco bag.
Well, we know the rest. The dangers were too great. LIFE THREATENING, they were.
We must blame Elf 'n Sayftee rather than the Fire Brigade, must we not? Well, not so fast..... I can't quite believe that the Fire Brigade has allowed itself to look like a bunch of bolshy pansies because of H&S measures beyond it's control. I believe that the FB Union has been involved in the creation of all of these risk-averse policies. In short, they need to man up, and soon. Otherwise, they will become a laughing stock.
Above all, I just wish they'd be honest. Who took the call regarding the seagull? Why scramble five crews for so petty a matter? Why not just tell the bleating individual who made the call that it wasn't a matter for the Fire Brigade, particularly one as allergic to water as ours.