This anecdote is one of my own very earliest memories of service at Ryde Fire Station.

 

One midweek afternoon in the late 1990's I was to undertake that special task that allows me to positively answer 'yes' to the common question 'have you ever rescued a cat from a tree?'

We rolled out of Ryde Fire Station in Alpha 4-1 (as it was known then) to an address in Great Preston Road that was immediately next door to Oakfield Primary School. The tip-sheet stated that a cat was stuck in a tree. 

On arrival the stricken moggy's owner advised Station Officer Dave Potts that the cat was named Tigger, barely six months old and had probably been up the tree since the previous day. Looking up we could see this forlorn little shape shivering on a sturdy branch at a considerable height above the ground. 

Stn O Potts ordered the 13.5 metre ladder be pitched as the height was greater than that achievable with the much lighter 10.5 metre ladder. Once this cumbersome item was pitched and pointing skywards, I volunteered to go up... not that I had much choice, as the newest on the crew at that time I'd have been sent up anyway.

Before going aloft I had the presence of mind to tie a personal line around my abdomen and unzip my tunic to just above that point; hence providing a secure pouch to place Tigger and keep my hands free for a safe descent.

As I ascended the ladder it became apparent that my wife had just arrived in the playground next door to collect our two elder daughters at the end of their school day. Out they came and 'Hi' I shouted from halfway up, relishing the opportunity to show one's spouse and children what a hero I was!

While they gazed in awe I continued up to the necessary height, came eyeball to eyeball with shivering Tigger, took the regulation leg-lock on the ladder and reached out. To my huge relief Tigger came easily and I slide him inside the comfort of my tunic, pulled the zip up a little more and began the descent.

As the girls waved and I smiled in triumph I suddenly became aware of a rapidly spreading warmth down my stomach. Yes... Tigger had thanked me by urinating copiously. 

Back at ground level I handed Tigger back to the grateful owner knowing that as soon as she was out of earshot I was going to be on the end of some serious banter.