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72 Pigs Rescued by Firefighters in NI Biggest and Dangerous Animal Rescue Operation

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72 pigs were rescued in what is considered the biggest Northern Ireland animal rescue operation.

The pigs were suffocating after falling into the slurry tank. The incidents occurred after the concrete slats on which the pigs were standing on gave way at a farm outside Aghalee.

34 firefighters were deployed to the zone on the Ballinderry Road in county Antrim by the Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service (NIFRS). After more than 7 hours of incessant difficult operation, 72 pigs were rescued safe while two died.

Fire crews from counties Antrim, Armagh, Down and Tyrone attended

NIFRS commander said that they were notified about the incident at 11:00 BST. Geoff Somerville further called the operation a “long and protracted” with each pig weighing more than 15st (100kg).

County Antrim, Crumlin, County Armagh, and Lurgan were the first stations to deploy their forces to the incident scene. As Mr. Somerville said, “We had our large animal rescue crews in attendance from Newcastle and Omagh and we had our specialist rescue team in attendance from Central fire station in Belfast.”

The slurry was approximately 3ft (0.9m) deep and our crew were using dry suits and breathing apparatus, with gas-monitoring equipment in place. We were then using lines to pull the pigs from the slurry tank, using a sloped grate that we had set in place.

The group commander also added that it was a remarkable achievement that they were capable if saving 72 pigs. As he expressed, the rescue operation was formerly done for cows, horses, and other animals. But in terms of number and scale of operation, he noted, this has been the biggest one in Northern Ireland.

Mr. Somerville also said that firefighters are usually sent to animal rescue operations in slurry incidents. This operation, however, was different as the danger of sulphur dioxide and the dangerous gases threatened the life of rescuers.

Geoff Somerville who helped save the farmer’s bacon

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