Firefighters in six-hour rescue of pet duck

Firefighters "went beyond the call of duty" during the six-hour rescue of a pet duck from a water pipe, its grateful owner said today.

Brownie, a four month-old Aylesbury cross khaki-Campbell, was found wedged in the overflow tube at her home in Chalford Hill, near Stroud, Gloucestershire.

Chris and Karen Hutchens dialled the county fire service's out-of-hours number on Saturday morning after their daughter Ellen, 13, begged them to get Brownie out.

Mrs Hutchens told the Gloucestershire Echo: "I didn't think they would come out but we wanted some help.

"It was such a relief when a fire engine turned up and they started digging the hole, the pipe was about 4ft underground but they kept going, they were wonderful and really went beyond the call of duty.

"Brownie is so much a part of our family and so it is amazing that she made it, I really didn't think we would get her out."

The family first grew concerned on Friday when Brownie didn't come up from the pond with their five other ducks.

They first thought she had been eaten by a fox, until a friend clearing the pond heard a quack from the bottom of the overflow pipe.

A fire service spokeswoman confirmed that the crew arrived just before 9.30am and had rescued the duck unharmed by 3.40pm.

The team dug a trench to reach the pipe and get the duck out.

Watch manager Chris Barton, from Stroud Fire Station, said the service had a humanitarian role and was able to answer the call as no other emergencies were going on.

If there had been, the crew would have broken off the duck rescue and returned later, he stressed.

But the TaxPayers' Alliance said such rescues should not become a fire service priority.

A spokeswoman said today: "Whilst no one likes to see a duck suffering, animal rescue is not the central job of the fire service. In this case there were no emergency calls pending, but calls can crop up at the last minute which could be much more pressing than the rescue of a duck."