Every one of the 121 fire engines in Devon and Somerset will soon be equipped with animal oxygen masks – thanks to the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA).
For a number of years, the Service has worked with the charity Smokey Paws to enable local groups and organisations to generously provide the masks to their local fire stations.
Now the RSPCA has donated 68 kits to cover all the remaining fire appliances that do not currently have one, meaning they will soon be used to revive pets in those crucial moments following a fire. These kits – which cost around £90 each – have been paid for thanks to funding from the animal welfare charity.
The aim is to prevent animals suffering and dying from the effects of smoke inhalation – as well as the additional trauma the death of an animal can cause the owners.
RSPCA animal welfare expert Dr Samantha Gaines said: “The bond between people and their pets can be incredibly strong and so losing a pet in a house fire can be hugely traumatic. Our pets are vulnerable to the dangers of house fires, and particularly smoke inhalation, just like us. The fire and rescue services do a wonderful job, so we’d like to help them not only save the lives of people but also of beloved pets who can be caught up in devastating and terrifying fires. By providing special animal oxygen kits for fire engines across Devon and Somerset, we hope to enable our brave and heroic firefighters to save even more lives.”
The money was raised by the RSPCA branches from the South West Regional Board who are funding the project which is set to transform the lives of four-legged fire victims.
The RSPCA – working alongside Smokey Paws – hopes to equip all fire service vehicles with pet oxygen masks, with a longer-term goal of rolling this out to other emergency services such as ambulances.
Chief Fire Officer Glenn Askew, of Devon & Somerset Fire & Rescue Service, said: “We have always worked closely with the RSPCA, particularly on animal rescues where animals are in distress and our specialist equipment is required to release them. We rescue pets such as dogs, cats, budgies and many other animals so these masks designed to fit over the snout provide the best possible chance of survival. A big thank you to the RSPCA.”
The money for the sets of masks was donated to Smokey Paws, the not-for-profit organisation trying to help family pets in the event of a fire, which supplies the kits.
Lynn Carberry, from Smokey Paws, said: “It is with the support and donations from the public and organisations that allow us to give these life-saving oxygen masks to the fire service. Every day firefighters risk their lives to save us and our pets, the least we can do is to give them the right equipment to aid their efforts.”
For more information about Smokey Paws go to its website www.smokeypaws.co.uk