Man rescued from church roof by fire crews

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A man was rescued from the roof of a village church during a sightseeing trip.

Fire fighters rescued the man from the roof of All Saints’ Church in Odell on Monday, April 21 after he became anxious about walking down the staircase.

After several hours of attempting to encourage him to walk down, the decision was made to lower him using a special system of ropes and harnesses.

The man had been on a tour of the church that included visiting the roof via a spiral staircase to see the views across Bedfordshire.

When the man came to descend back down the tight, dark staircase from the roof into the church building he found he could not enter the stairwell. For two hours the man was unable to leave the roof, 90 feet high, and Bedfordshire Fire and Rescue Service (BFRS) was called to assist.

After the call was received at 4.10pm, BFRS mobilised its special Working At Height Unit from Dunstable.

Fire fighters joined police at the scene, in an attempt to encourage the gentleman down from the roof via the staircase he had climbed on the way up, but by 6.40pm, with night drawing in and rain beginning to fall, it was clear he could not overcome his anxiety about using the staircase.

Fire fighters who are specially trained in rescues from heights then rigged up a lowering system of ropes and harnesses, anchored to the church building, the man was then safely lowered in a harness with a fire fighter escorting him to ensure that he remained calm as he was safely brought back down to ground level.

BFRS Station Commander Darren Cook explained: “When we arrived the man was clearly unable to bring himself to go down the twisting stairs in the dark. After some time trying to negotiate with him it was clear that the deteriorating light and weather meant we had to find another way to assist him to the ground before it became too dangerous to be up there.

Commander Cook added: “We used our harness to hold him securely while we lowered him to the ground, it was like abseiling but in a very controlled way. In all it took about twenty seconds to get him from the roof to the ground and he seemed to be far more relaxed than he was at the prospect of having to go back down the winding staircase.

“I’d like to congratulate the Fire fighters, Police and ambulance crews involved for their skill in making this rescue go so well.”