Kent Fire and Rescue Service (KFRS) is one of the first fire services in the UK to have pet oxygen masks on all of its fire engines and at every fire station in the county.
The first sets of special life-saving masks arrived in Kent last November 2015 and were successfully used within a few weeks on pet dog Maggie, following a house fire in Faversham.
Since then, the pet oxygen masks have been used numerous times. At one incident alone 12 cats and four dogs were treated - unfortunately four of the cats did not survive. A horse received oxygen in Romney Marsh after two animals in a horse box being towed were involved in a collision. A Jack Russell trapped under a metal drain grill up to its neck in water was also given oxygen therapy until it could be cut free.
Members of the public, Kent and Medway businesses, charities and other organisations have generously sponsored masks through not-for-profit organisation, Smokey Paws. The fundraising concluded last month, with a concert in Egerton Millennium Hall featuring The Military Wives Choir (Brompton) with musical director, Thomas Rudd and guest vocalist Miss Holly Chambers. The concert proceeds were split between Smokey Paws and The Military Wives Choir Foundation Charity.
KFRS project lead, David Nolan, said: "We know just how important people's pets are to them and the risks they will take to rescue them. Most pets will run and hide if they smell smoke or see flames. If there's a fire in your home and you have to evacuate, its natural to want to save your pets, assuming you can do so easily and safely. If not, get out and call 999 - never put yourself at risk or your pet in greater danger by going back into a burning building to search for them.
"Tell fire crews where your pet is likely to hide and leave the search and rescue to us. Not only do all our fire engines carry life-saving pet oxygen masks, our firefighters will also be among the first in the country to receive enhanced pet resuscitation training, giving you and your much-loved pets the best chance of surviving the deadly effects of fire and smoke."
The training involves a newly designed pet first aid programme, including the treatment of pets following smoke inhalation or traumatic injury. KFRS' specialist first aid instructors have received training from veterinary professionals in order to create this innovative training for our firefighters. The first aid team now have a resuscitation dog manikin to practice the techniques.
The following fire safety tips will give all members of your family the best chance of survival:
Fit working smoke alarms on every floor of your home and test them frequently
Make a fire escape plan that covers all members of your family, including your pets and think about what will happen if a fire starts when you're not there but your pet is
When leaving your pets home alone it’s a good idea to secure them in rooms near entrances using a dog crate or if your home allows you to, close off a front room or section of the house to contain your pets while you’re away, it will be easier for firefighters to locate them in an emergency
Keep a collar on your dog, and leads and cat carriers in an easy-to-access spot near the front door so your pet can be secured and they don't bolt in panic once they get outside
Put a pet alert sticker in a front window, in an easy-to-spot location, so fire crews know who to look for when they go into your home
You could also help prevent your pet from starting a fire by:
Not leaving pets unattended around any open flame – candles, cooking appliances, fireplaces, etc., and by always thoroughly extinguishing open flames when you leave your home
Keep pets away from cookers and hobs - protect them with child or pet-proof covers
Secure electrical wires and power cords out of your pet’s reach
Notes to Editors:
Smokey Paws’ mission is to raise enough money through public donations, to equip every first responder in the UK with these lifesaving masks. Find out about their work here
Sponsors of Smokey Paws Pet Oxygen masks include: Grafty Green Short Mat Bowls Club, Animals at Home, AW Court, the Civil Service Insurance Society, Isle of Sheppey Round Table, Pets at Home, Southborough Lions Club, Brookside Nursery, HRH the Duke of Kent, Kent Police (Property Fund), Milly’s Meals, Dartford Dog Training Club, Smith’s Medical Industries, Rolfe’s Hardware (New Romney), EDF Dungerness, Bark 'n' Bound Dog Walking and Pet Services, Medway Towns Dog Training Club, Whitstable Lions Club, E&J Caravans, Ms Carole Pickaver, Lee Elms and a variety of other miscellaneous donations from KFRS volunteers and staff