Monday, June 27, 2011

Padworth Swing Bridge now open — no stoppages on the K&A Canal

Padworth Swing Bridge (27) on the eastern end of the Kennet & Avon Canal has been repaired and is now working normally and British Waterways have finished the repairs to brickwork, gates and fenders at Aldermaston lock (95).


There are no reported stoppages on the canal. 

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Crofton locks on the K&A Canal now re-opened

Following investigation yesterday (Friday 24 June 2011) of Lock 59 at Crofton by British Waterways locks 55-60 have now been re-opened.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Navigation Notes: Friday 24 June 2011 — K&A Canal closed in two places

Problems persist on the the K&A Canal with through-navigation not possible at all at the moment 

British Waterways staff are working on problems on a lock gate on the Crofton Flight (59) so locks 55-60 are closed until further notice and Padworth Swing Bridge (27), which had been open twice a day operated by BW staff, has now failed completely. It is now completely out of action and until it has been repaired through passage will not be possible.

Water levels on the summit level between Cadley Lock (54) and Crofton Top Lock (55) are still extremely low with restricted opening times at these two locks. They are open between 10am and 3pm.  Water levels  are still very low on the Long Pound between Kennet lock (50) in Devizes and Wootton Rivers Lock (51).

Stoppages and delays on the K&A
Until further notice: River Avon, Bath navigate with care between Victoria Suspension Bridge (201) and Sainsbury's Bridge (200) where work on the Bath Western Riverside development is being done.  There are instruction signs on the bank.
Until further notice: because of extremely low water levels on the summit between Cadley Lock (54) and Crofton Top Lock (55) these locks will be opened at 10am and closed at 3pm.  Share locks whenever possible
Until further notice: Because of the problem at Lock 59 British Waterways have now closed from Crofton Top Lock (55)  to lock 60 (above the waterpoint and winding hole at Crofton Pumping Station).
Until further notice: The canal is closed at Padworth Swing Bridge (27) until it has been repaired.
Until further notice: Work continues on Aldermaston Lock to repair brickwork, gates and fenders. There could be some slight delays because of the work on the lock.
Until Monday 27 June 2011: Oracle Shopping Centre, Reading — navigate with care. Cleaning work is being done on the riverside walkway and bridges are being painted.
Be aware:
On The Long Pound Kennet Lock Devizes (50) to Wootton Rivers Lock (51) the water level is very low and boaters at Pewsey and Honeystreet are reporting that they are unable to get their boats off their moorings because they are stuck firmly on the bottom — however the 14 mile pound is still navigable — but slowly.
Crofton Flight (lock 60): One of the ground paddles is out of action — as it has been for a considerable time.
Great Bedwyn Church Lock (64): One of the ground paddles is still out of action - as it has been for 3 years.
Reading County Lock (106): The floating pontoon at the entrance to County Lock is in a very unsafe state — BW have taken steps to prevent its use. Do not attempt to use it.

Rubbish disposal
There are no longer a waste disposal bins near the sanitary station at Hungerford. The nearest rubbish disposal bins to Hungerford are at Kintbury and Great Bedwyn Wharf.
To report fly-tipping and any other problems with the waste disposal sites contact BW in Devizes: 01380 722859 or by email to: enquiries.kennetavon@britishwaterways.co.uk

Pump outs
There are no reported problems with the BW pump outs on the canal.
Cards for BW pump-outs can be bought for £10 each from:
 • Aldermaston Wharf Canal Centre  • Frouds Bridge Marina  • Bev & Geoff's Pitstop, Newbury • The Dundas Arms Hotel, Kintbury • Tutti Pole Tea Room, Hungerford  • Great Bedwyn Post Office • The Waterfront, Pewsey Wharf • The Canal Centre, Devizes Wharf • The Caen Hill Café, Devizes • Foxhanger Canal Holidays, Devizes  • The Boatyard, Trowbridge • ABC Leisure Group, Trowbridge • Sally Boats, Bradford On Avon • The Bath and Dundas Canal Co., Somerset Coal Canal • Bath Narrowboats
For contact details for these businesses go to: www.kacanaltimes.co.uk where they are listed under canal services.

The KAcanalTIMES website is online at: www.kacanaltimes.co.uk
To subscribe to the email posting service send an email with 'join' in the subject line to:news@kacanaltimes.co.uk (to cancel send an email to the same address with 'cancel' in the subject line)

Thursday, June 23, 2011

K&A navigion update: Locks 55-60 at Crofton are all closed

Because of the problem at Lock 59 British Waterways have now closed from Crofton Top Lock (55)  to lock 60 (above the waterpoint and winding hole at Crofton Pumping Station).


Work continues at Aldermaston Lock (95) so there could be some slight delays there.  Aldermaston Lift Bridge (28) is now re-opened but unfortunately Padworth Swing Bridge (27) is still out of action (closed) until further notice.

K&A Canal closed at Crofton

K&A Lock 59 — closed
Lock 59 on the Crofton Flight of Locks on the Kennet & Avon Canal is closed until further notice because of a problem with one of the lock gates.


More information to follow once the situation has been assessed.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

K&A Canal closed at Padworth and Aldermaston

Wednesday 22 June 2011 until further notice
Padworth Bridge (27) which was being operated manually by BW staff at 10am and 4pm each day has now failed completely and repair work will begin tomorrow (Thursday 23 June 2011).

Aldermaston Lift Bridge (28) is closed for repair until 6pm tomorrow (Thursday 23 June 2011) and it will not be possible for boats to pass.

Work continues on Aldermaston Lock (95) to repair brickwork, gates and fenders — there could be slight delays because of the work on the lock.

Enquiries: 01380 737907


Caen Hill Flight on the K&A Canal gets Transport Trust award


The Caen Hill Flight of Locks at Devizes on the Kennet & Avon Canal received a ‘Red Wheel’ plaque from the Transport Trust today (Wednesday 22 June 2011).
The Red Wheel scheme launched in 2009 commemorates transport sites of historical interest and it is similar to the English Heritage's Blue Plaques.

Transport Trust President, Sir William McAlpine, said: “John Rennie’s engineering masterpiece, the Caen Hill Flight of Locks, is a well-deserving host of a Red Wheel Plaque and a wonderful location to visit and enjoy our nation’s industrial heritage in beautiful surroundings.”
The Caen Hill Flight was opened in 1810 and it completed the 87-mile inland waterway link from Bristol to Reading — and then on to London on the River Thames.
Today the locks and their side ponds are a haven for wildlife and a working example of industrial heritage which is enjoyed by thousands of visitors every year.
David Bruce, President of the Kennet & Avon Canal Trust said: “ The Red Wheel Plaque will act as a permanent reminder to visitors about the heritage of this site.
“It’s great to see our canal and its wonderful structures receiving even more special attention.”
From left to right are, David Bruce, President of the K&A Canal Trust, Stuart Wilkinson, Chairman of the Transport Trust, Lady Judy McAlpine, Sir William McAlpine President of the Transport Trust, Mayor of Devizes Cllr Sue Evans and BW Chairman, Tony Hales. 
Picture by Gill Owen/BW


Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Police name man who's body was found in the K&A Canal at Newbury last week

The body of a man discovered in the Kennet & Avon Canal in Newbury last Wednesday afternoon (June 15, 2011) has been identified as Godfrey Smith, 82, of Over Wallop, near Andover, Hampshire.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

K&A Canal Trust distances itself from new President's forthright views

Has the new president been 'got at' ask K&A Canal Trust members?

New Kennet & Avon Canal Trust President, 
David Bruce: Picture by Bob Naylor©
Following a recent story on KAcanalTIMES about the Kennet & Avon Canal Trust Chairman, David Bruce's  inaugural speech at the recent Trust AGM it seems that those who actually control the K&A Canal Trust have clearly felt a need to distance themselves from his views and they have recently posted on their website a 'sanitised' version of what they would really have liked him to have said — but he didn't.


See: K&A Canal Trust President slams Government's 'stupid' waterway charity plans

Inspirational
David Bruce's views clearly struck a chord with both the rank and file of the Trust and former senior members of the organisation who feel that what he said is an inspiration and a return to the spirit of the old K&A Canal Trust that fought so hard against the abandonment and deriliction of the K&A Canal.

In his speech at the Trust AGM in Devizes David Bruce called for members of the Trust to make their feelings known about what he described as 'stupid' government policy and to get it reversed. 

However, it would seem, that this level of activism is at odds with the current 'leadership' of the financially ailing and leadership bereft Trust who at their AGM tried to claim that a loss of £65,000 over the year ... and merely 'breaking even' with the operation of a trip boat that has no paid staff and is run entirely by volunteers is, in fact, a successful year.

Former Trust General 
Manager — now
Chairman: Mike Rodd
The Trust Chairman, Mike Rodd, who was the General Manger with a responsibility for fundraising until late last year when the Trust, after two years with him at the helm,  found itself unable to meet its wages bill terminated his post — and then co-opted him on to the board of Trustees and made him Chairman — answered his own question.., "What does the Trust do?" with "Actually at the moment it doesn't do much but sustain itself."  See:  Trust does little for canal admits K&A Canal Trust Chairman

The K&A Canal Trust website carries a report of David Bruce's speech that no one who was there would recognise as an accurate record of what he said …  but you can read it for yourself at: President's address

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Professor Heard's Peerless Magic Lantern Show at the Holburne Museum in Bath


Professor Heard's Magic Lantern Show of Curiosities — for one night only in Bath

Big screen entertainment — but not as we know it!


Showman ‘Professor’ Heard travels all over the world exhibiting his remarkable and rare collection of hand-painted and photographic magic lantern slides.

This show has been specially designed for the Holburne and uses some of the most wonderful and curious material that was originally designed for the amusement and instruction of Victorian and Edwardian audiences.


You will meet:
  • bearded ladies 
  • alphabetical acrobats 
  • temperance tirades 
  • stories of pigs and wigs ... and pictures that will stretch your imagination!
His fast moving shows are a mixture of entertainment and fascinating facts about the magic lantern's long history featuring lots of moving slides and special effects and plenty of irreverent humour.

Tuesday 23 June 2011 at 7pm 

Ticket are £10 for adults and £5 for children. The show is suitable for 7-year-olds and over.


Body found in Bristol Feeder Canal believed to be missing student

Police investigating the disappearance of Bristol student William Appleby have recovered a body from the Feeder Canal that links the River Avon with the Floating Harbour in Bristol.

Police were called to the Cattle Market on
 Feeder Road at about 2.25pm yesterday afternoon (Friday 17 June 2011) and they recovered a body from the water.

It is believed to be the body of William but a formal identification has not yet been made.

Police are not treating the incident as suspicious at this stage.



Previous story: River Avon search for missing Bristol student

Solicitor challenges BW interpretation of K&A Canal Continuous Cruiser case judgement

The solicitor who represented Paul Davies in the recent Kennet & Avon Canal 'continuous cruiser' case says  the result is not the precedent setting victory that  British Waterways is claiming it to be and she has issued the following statement:

Case of National Importance for Narrow Boat Dwellers
The rivers and canals in and around city centres are rightly regarded as one of the city’s major attractions but they also represent home to a large community of narrowboat dwellers. A recent court ruling in favour of British Waterways has placed that way of life in jeopardy and the Housing Department of solicitors Stone King, is involved in pioneering action to protect it.

British Waterways brought a test case against Bath area riverboat dweller Paul Davies when he was taken to court for breaching guidelines relating to cruising patterns. The case has forced British Waterways to refine its guidelines governing so-called “continuous cruisers”.
The guidelines (which paraphrase the law) state that narrowboaters like Mr Davies, who live on the canal without having a permanent mooring, should be regarded as ‘continuous cruisers’ and thus required to make ‘substantial journeys’ along the entire canal network. Mr Davies argued that the guidelines did not accurately represent the law, which has never been defined.
The judge held that, in these particular circumstances, moving the boat "every so often up and down a short stretch of canal" did not constitute bona fide navigating and gave Mr Davies three months in which to navigate further, or find a permanent mooring. Stone King’s Geraldine Winkler (who represented Mr Davies) believes the decision raises more questions than it answers.
Stone King Housing Lawyer, Ms Geraldine Winkler says: “This is the first time that the Act and guidelines have undergone proper scrutiny in a court. The judgement has forced British Waterways to consider a more realistic interpretation of what “bona fide navigation” actually means.
The judgment refers only to the Davies case, which means that it doesn’t necessarily create a legal precedent and for two reasons: Firstly, it is only persuasive in a court of the same level and secondly it was decided on its own facts. There are a number of questions that were raised in the court and not decided on, and the effect of the fact Paul lived on the boat was not clear. Nevertheless, there may be a  concern  it could be used to influence future cases, which could lead to narrowboat owners being made homeless.
British Waterways have hailed the outcome as a victory but it’s clear that as each case should be judged on its merits, narrowboat-dwellers have no reason to lose hope. It’s crucial therefore that people living on the narrowboats around Bath or beyond who are threatened with, or facing seizure by British Waterways, are properly represented in court.
My view is that a workable resolution will only be achieved when the parties concerned reach a compromise, but that may be some way off yet.”
The case and the community attracted some considerable media interest (The Society in the Guardian, BBC Points West and the One Show).

For more information, please contact Geraldine Winkler, Housing Lawyer at Stone King on 01225 324406.
Related stories: 

Friday, June 17, 2011

River Avon search for missing Bristol student

William is 6ft tall, with short dark
brown hair and was last seen
wearing a blue shirt and jeans.
William Appleby, 19, a student at the University of the West of England in Bristol was last seen at about 2am on Sunday 12 June 2011 near the Motion nightclub in Avon Street. 

Police have been searching for him all week and divers have now started to search the River Avon near the nightclub.

Detective Inspector Andy Gwyther who is leading the search said: "We are extremely concerned for Will's safety. Will had been drinking with friends but it wasn't unusual for him to leave a nightclub by himself."

Anyone who has seen him or knows of his whereabouts is asked to contact Bristol CID on 0845 456 7000 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111. Police will not ask your name or trace your call.



Police have released this cctv film of the last sighting of William.


K&A Canal navigation notes: Friday 17 June 2011

Stoppages and delays on the K&A

Until further notice: River Avon, Bath navigate with care between Victoria Suspension Bridge (201) and Sainsbury's Bridge (200) where work on the Bath Western Riverside development is being done.  There are instruction signs on the bank.
Until further notice: because of extremely low water levels on the summit between Cadley Lock (54) and Crofton Top Lock (55) these locks will be opened at 10am and closed at 3pm.  Share locks whenever possible. On The Long Pound (Wootton Rivers to Devizes) the water level is very low and boaters at Pewsey and Honeystreet are reporting that they are unable to get their boats off their moorings because they are stuck firmly on the bottom — however the 14 mile pound is still navigable — but slowly.
Until further notice: because of electrical problems Padworth Swing Bridge (27) is not functioning properly and it will be operated by BW staff at 10am and 4pm daily.
Until Monday 27 June 2011: Oracle Shopping Centre, Reading — navigate with care. Cleaning work is being done on the riverside walkway and bridges are being painted.
Monday 20 June 2011 until Thursday 23 June 2011  Aldermaston Lift Bridge (28) closed for repair and it will not be possible for boats to pass
Monday 20 June 2011: Work starts on Aldermaston Lock to repair brickwork, gates and fenders — although the waterpoint and Elsan/sewage disposal point will not be accessible from the east because of the lift bridge closure — it will still be possible to get the facilities from the west. There could be slight delays because of the work on the lock.

Lock closures & problems
The are no current lock closures but boaters should be aware of problems at:
Reading County Lock (106): The floating pontoon at the entrance to County Lock is in a very unsafe state — BW have taken steps to prevent its use. Do not attempt to use it.
Great Bedwyn Church Lock (64): One of the ground paddles is still out of action - as it has been for 3 years.
Crofton Flight (lock 60): One of the ground paddles is out of action — as it has been for a considerable time.

Crofton waterpoint which had been out of action because of contamination is now back in use.

Rubbish disposal
There are no longer a waste disposal bins near the sanitary station at Hungerford. The nearest rubbish disposal bins to Hungerford are at Kintbury and Great Bedwyn Wharf.
To report fly-tipping and any other problems with the waste disposal sites contact BW in Devizes: 01380 722859 or by email to: enquiries.kennetavon@britishwaterways.co.uk

Pump outs
There are no reported problems with the BW pump outs on the canal.
Cards for BW pump-outs can be bought for £10 each from:
 • Aldermaston Wharf Canal Centre  • Frouds Bridge Marina  • Bev & Geoff's Pitstop, Newbury • The Dundas Arms Hotel, Kintbury • Tutti Pole Tea Room, Hungerford  • Great Bedwyn Post Office • The Waterfront, Pewsey Wharf • The Canal Centre, Devizes Wharf • The Caen Hill Café, Devizes • Foxhanger Canal Holidays, Devizes  • The Boatyard, Trowbridge • ABC Leisure Group, Trowbridge • Sally Boats, Bradford On Avon • The Bath and Dundas Canal Co., Somerset Coal Canal • Bath Narrowboats
For contact details for these businesses go to: www.kacanaltimes.co.uk where they are listed under canal services.

The KAcanalTIMES website is online at: www.kacanaltimes.co.uk
To subscribe to the email posting service send an email with 'join' in the subject line to:news@kacanaltimes.co.uk (to cancel send an email to the same address with 'cancel' in the subject line)

Award for fire service water rescue team

The Caversham Road Water Rescue Team in action: Pictures by Bob Naylor/RBFRS©


Members of the Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service water rescue team based at Caversham Road Fire Station in Reading received a Recognition of Achievement award from the Lord Lieutentant of Berkshire, Mary Bayliss, at an awards ceremony at Bearwood College.

As well as attending water-related incidents throughout Berkshire the team are also trained to deal with large animal  rescues.

Second body found in the K&A Canal at Newbury

The body of a man in his 80s was recovered from the Kennet & Avon Canal near to Bone Mill Sluice in Newbury on Wednesday afternoon (15 June 2011).  The man, who has not yet been formally identified, is not believed by police to be from the local area.

This follows another incident only 11 days earlier when on on June 4th the body of an 80-year-old man from Thatcham was found in the canal nearby at  Mill Lane.

Police are not treating either death as suspicious. 

Thursday, June 16, 2011

K&A Canal navigation warning: River Avon, Bath

The River Avon in Bath near Victoria Bridge. Picture by Bob Naylor©
Navigate with care on the River Avon in Bath between Victoria Suspension Bridge (201) and the bridge near the Sainsbury store (200) where work is being done in connection with the Crest Nicholson Western Riverside Development.


Follow information signs on the river bank.

K&A Canal Trust President slams Government's 'stupid' waterway charity plans



K&A Canal Trust President, David Bruce
Picture by Bob Naylor ©

By Bob Naylor

Plans to turn British Waterways into a charitable trust are 'stupid' says David Bruce who became President of the Kennet & Avon Canal Trust following the recent resignation of former MP Michael Ancram.


Speaking at the Trust's AGM he called for a campaign to persuade the coalition government to reverse the policy in the way that they did over selling off the forests and the proposed changes to the National Health Service.

He said: "Government came up with a stupid idea to hand responsibility for Britain's Canals from the public accountability of British Waterways to Parliament and the electorate and it now proposes that it be run by a small group of new Trustees who will only be accountable to the Charity Commission and the jobsworths that tick the boxes at Companies House."

He described as 'extraordinary' the fact that of the eight new trustees, three of them are existing British Waterways directors. "Guess what", he said, "they are the Chairman, the Vice Chairman and another director who happens to head the Audit Committee.

"When you are trying to change the culture of a body that used to report to Parliament and you have still got the same culture of the British Waterways Board leading those eight trustees then I treat that with a great degree of scepticism. This is a 'shoo-in' … a done-deal and I hate a done deal.

"It has been bad enough, I think, for poor old British Waterways, and I don't normally feel sorry for them, trying to keep Britain's Waterways going with their piddly little amounts of money from Defra - it may be 40 or 50 million pounds a year — but its not enough."

David Bruce, who started the Bruce Trust charity 22 years ago so that people with disabilities and their families can enjoy a canal holiday, went on to question how a charity is going to be
able afford to maintain the locks and the infrastructure and to maintain the water levels if British Waterways with Defra cannot.

He said: "My experience of charities is that they are not bottomless pits of cash — and I think it is really worrying that the government is now seizing this opportunity to pass our much loved national treasure of waterways from BW to a charitable trust — this new National Waterways Trust or whatever absurd name the jobsworths come up with.

"Who knows, if enough canal enthusiasts throughout the UK make their views heard then perhaps the government might listen as it did with the Forestry Commission proposals and the NHS reforms, when the public revolted and the Government listened. We have got to appeal to the Government."


Comments on all stories are always welcome however a comment on this story by 'anonymous' has been removed on legal advice.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Narrow escape for K&A Canal boating holidaymaker

A boater escaped with only minor injuries when a tree fell on him while he was operating a lock on the Widcombe Flight in Bath on the Kennet & Avon Canal at noon yesterday (Monday 13 June 2011).

Paramedics and Avon Fire and rescue were called to the scene where they found a 71-year-old man trapped under the tree.  

The trunk of what is described as a 'substantial' tree narrowly missed him and he was pinned down by outer branches of the tree. He was treated for back and rib injuries at the scene and then taken to Bath Royal United Hospital for further treatment.


Monday, June 13, 2011

K&A Canal closed at Aldermaston this week

Aldermaston Lift Bridge(28) will be closed from noon today (Monday 13 June) until 6pm on Thursday 16 June for essential repairs.  The canal will be closed at Aldermaston for this period and boats will not be able to pass.



Friday, June 10, 2011

K&A Canal navigation notes: Friday 10 June 2011

Stoppages and delays on the K&A
Until further notice: because of extremely low water levels on the summit between Cadley Lock (54) and Crofton Top Lock (55) these locks will be opened at 10am and closed at 3pm.  Share locks whenever possible.
Until further notice: because of electrical problems Padworth Swing Bridge (27) is not functioning properly and it will be operated by BW staff at 10am and 4pm daily.
Monday 13 June until Monday 27 June 2011: Oracle Shopping Centre, Reading — navigate with care. Cleaning work is being done on the riverside walkway and bridges are being painted.
Monday 20 June 2011 until Thursday 23 June 2011  Aldermaston Lift Bridge (28) closed for repair and it will not be possible for boats to pass

The Long Pound (Wootton Rivers to Devizes)
The water level is very low and boaters at Pewsey and Honeystreet are reporting that they are unable to get their boats off their moorings because they are stuck firmly on the bottom — however the 14 mile pound is still navigable — but slowly.

Lock closures & problems
The are no lock closures at the moment but boaters should be aware of problems at:
Church Lock, Great Bedwyn
Reading County Lock (106): The floating pontoon at the entrance to County Lock is in a very unsafe state — BW have taken steps to prevent its use. Do not attempt to use it.
Great Bedwyn Church Lock (64): One of the ground paddles is still out of action - as it has been for 3 years.
Crofton Flight (lock 60): One of the ground paddles is out of action — as it has been for a considerable time.


Crofton waterpoint which had been out of action because of contamination is now back in use.

Rubbish disposal
There is no longer a waste disposal bin near the sanitary station at Hungerford  because of access problems for the Biffa 'one man' waste carts. The nearest rubbish disposal bins to Hungerford are at Kintbury and Great Bedwyn Wharf.
To report fly-tipping and any other problems with the waste disposal sites contact BW in Devizes: 01380 722859 or by email to: enquiries.kennetavon@britishwaterways.co.uk

Pump outs
There are no reported problems with the BW pump outs on the canal.
Cards for BW pump-outs can be bought for £10 each from:
 • Aldermaston Wharf Canal Centre
 • Frouds Bridge Marina
 • Bev & Geoff's Pitstop, Newbury
 • The Dundas Arms Hotel, Kintbury
 • Tutti Pole Tea Room, Hungerford 
 • Great Bedwyn Post Office
 • The Waterfront, Pewsey Wharf
 • The Canal Centre, Devizes Wharf
 • The Caen Hill Café, Devizes
 • Foxhanger Canal Holidays, Devizes 
 • The Boatyard, Trowbridge
 • ABC Leisure Group, Trowbridge
 • Sally Boats, Bradford On Avon
 • The Bath and Dundas Canal Co., Somerset Coal Canal
 • Bath Narrowboats
For contact details for these businesses go to: www.kacanaltimes.co.uk where they are listed under canal services.

The KAcanalTIMES website is online at: www.kacanaltimes.co.uk
To subscribe to the email posting service send an email with 'join' in the subject line to:news@kacanaltimes.co.uk (to cancel send an email to the same address with 'cancel' in the subject line)

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Rescue helicopter in trials with Avon Fire and Rescue

A helicopters could be used to get firefighters quickly to the scene of canal and river rescues, traffic accidents and building collapses if trials by Avon Fire and Rescue Service are successful.

A series simulated rescues are taking place with a crew of four firefighters and rescue equipment being flown to the scene of ten simulated emergencies across the Avon area. Once on scene the firefighters will be able to use specialist equipment to begin a rescue or give first aid.

Helicopters are used extensively in other European countries but if the scheme is adopted by Avon they will be the first fire and rescue service in the UK to use one.

Avon Fire & Rescue Service Chief Fire Office Kevin Pearson believes helicopters could give long term efficiencies and improved casualty care: “Fire and rescue is the only emergency service not to use helicopters," he said, "and fifteen years ago we couldn’t have contemplated an idea like this, but advances in technology mean that rescue equipment is now lighter and more powerful and I believe we can now fit enough onto a helicopter to provide an effective response".

A Eurocopter EC145 is being provided with a crew and fuel free of charge for the five-day trial.