A cat caught in a house fire in London has become the first pet to be saved by newly implemented pet oxygen masks (London Fire Brigade/ PA)
A cat caught in a house fire in London has become the first pet to be saved by newly-implemented pet oxygen masks.
Two cats were rescued and one provided with oxygen by the London Fire Brigade after a fire broke out in Paddington on Friday afternoon.
Donated by not-for-profit organisation Smokey Paws, the equipment comes in three sizes of pet oxygen therapy masks and can be used on dogs and cats, as well as smaller animals such as rabbits, snakes and mice.
The masks will now be carried on fire engines in Battersea, Paddington, Richmond and Hammersmith as part of a pilot scheme. If a success, the kits will be rolled out to stations across the capital.
The equipment comes with three sizes of mask and can be used on dogs and cats, among other animals (London Fire Brigade/ PA)
Before the introduction of specialist equipment, firefighters rescuing animals that had inhaled smoke were forced to improvise to try to revive them.
However, London Fire Brigade said they recognise how “precious” pets are to families and hope that the new kits will “bring a bit of hope and positivity to families in a traumatic situation”.
Station officer Nathan Beeby, who was at the scene on Friday, said: “Crews did a great job in challenging conditions to tackle this house fire and then were able to focus on the pets they had rescued.
“Having something specially designed made so much difference as the mask is properly sealed around the animal’s muzzle and all the oxygen is going into their lungs.
“The crews all thought it was a great piece of equipment that was easy to use with the training they had all had, quick to get to work with and ultimately saved the cat’s life.
We know there’s been an increase in people getting pets during the pandemic and we are likely to see more animals involved in incidents, so we needed to improve our ability to respond appropriately.
Dave O’Neill, London Fire Brigade
“Having the specialist equipment there also put the occupier at ease and they were really happy with the outcome.”
Since 2019, London’s firefighters have attended more than 100 fires involving dogs, cats and other pets such as rabbits and hamsters.
London Fire Brigade deputy assistant commissioner for operational policy Dave O’Neill said: “Of course, a firefighter’s priority is always to save any human life, but we know how precious people’s pets are to them and we also know owners will put their own lives at risk by trying to return to a burning building to rescue them.
“We know there’s been an increase in people getting pets during the pandemic and we are likely to see more animals involved in incidents, so we needed to improve our ability to respond appropriately.
“This new equipment will allow our crews to safely provide oxygen to any animals which need medical attention in the immediate aftermath of a fire. They will also bring a bit of hope and positivity to families in a traumatic situation.
“The equipment for pets builds on the brigade’s significant investment in its equipment in recent years, including fire escape hoods, which are carried on all fire engines and are used to help bring people out through smoke-filled environments safely, and the rollout of three 64m ladders – the tallest in Europe – and eight 32m ladders.”