Engineer Charlie Goodchild was on his way to fix a boiler when the cat ran in front of his vehicle on the busy Hammersmith Road on Monday (April 4), causing him to slam his brakes.
The frightened animal then crawled beneath the van and into the engine compartment where it got trapped.
Unsure what to do Charlie called the RSPCA, who advised him not to move the van. The animal charity was soon at the scene but, despite hearing the kitten crying, could see no way of safely rescuing it.
It cook about three hours to free the kitten, and resulted in the temporary closure of Hammersmith Road during the rescue.
It is not the first time in recent weeks that fire crew have helped save a stricken animal, after firefighters helped save a an owl in Hayes .
The animal is now recovering from its ordeal at the RSCPA hospital in Putney, and has been named Wolfie after the firefighter who led the rescue mission. Charlie’s boss has said he would adopt the cat if its owners cannot be found.
The engineer said: “It’s not every day that a kitten jumps into your engine; I certainly wasn’t expecting it.
“When the fire brigade lifted my van and rescued Wolfie, I was amazed and delighted that he had no marks and is as right as rain.”
Kensington fire station watch manager Thomas Wolfe, after whom the Tom was named, said: “It was such a tiny kitten it was quite hard to find as it had got itself right into the engine.
"It took me about 45 minutes to locate him and get him safely out. I was relieved to see him unharmed as I handed him over to the RSPCA.
“In my 20 years as a firefighter this is only the second cat I’ve had to rescue. It goes to show that the old stereotype about firefighters always rescuing cats is nonsense!"
Tiny ball of fluff... quite a commotion
Watch manager Wolfe added: “Our advice is always to call the RSPCA if you see an animal stuck somewhere, and then if they need our help, they’ll call on us, as they did on this occasion.”
RSPCA animal collection officer Jill Sanders said: “Poor Wolfie has been through quite an ordeal – he is only a tiny ball of fluff but he has caused quite a commotion today.
“He is now recovering from his adventure at Putney Animal Hospital and he looks set to make a full recovery, which is fantastic news.”
Anyone who recognises the kitten can call the RSPCA on 0300 123 8018.