Animals which struggle to survive after breathing in smoke in Shropshire house fires now have a much better chance of survival after a successful campaign to stock all county fire engines with pet sized oxygen masks.
Two Shropshire Fire and Rescue Service employees who helped to support a fundraising campaign backed by the public have been praised for their efforts.
Watch Manager Martin Huckle and support officer Emily Hodson, who work at Shrewsbury fire HQ, received an award from Deputy Chief Fire Officer Dave Myers for their “innovative thinking” and charitable work in aid of the campaign which touched the hearts of Shropshire people.
Martin helped to co-ordinate the campaign after being contacted by Hectors Greyhound Rescue, of Gobowen, which held a charity walk to buy the first two mini oxygen masks specifically designed for cats, dogs and smaller animals.
Since the campaign was launched less than two yeas ago, a total of 28 masks costing £90 each have now been placed on all Shropshire’s fire appliances, paid for from donations.
Emily (20), who joined Shropshire Fire and Rescue Service as an apprentice, was praised for organising a bring your pet to work day to raise money for three charities, including the Smoky Paws national charity which provides the pet masks.
Telford firefighter Louise Fletcher (pictured) also raised funds to pay for five pet oxygen masks, among the first to go onto fire appliances.
Firefighters have used them to revive cats in house fires in Ellesmere and Shrewsbury, and sheep and spring lambs in Whitchurch.
Shropshire Fire and Rescue Service is one of the first brigades in the UK to have the masks on all fire appliances.
Martin, who regularly gets calls from other brigades for advice on the pet oxygen masks, said: “We’ve used them three times in the past 18 months.
“Small animals inhale smoke four times faster than we do and can collapse very quickly. Human oxygen masks, which we used in the past, just don’t fit properly and these pet sized masks are much more effective in reviving them and saving their lives.”