PVFRS equips engines with new pet rescue equipment

Pahrump Valley Fire and Rescue Services (PVFRS) members believe the welfare and safety of all local residents is their number one priority — and that includes the four-legged variety.

As proof, the department recently purchased equipment commonly used to save a pet in the event of a house fire.

According the American Kennel Club (AKC), an estimated 500,000 pets are impacted by home fires each year; many of the animals are killed.

Last month, members of the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF) Local 4068 firefighters, along with the Town of Pahrump Fire Department, purchased three animal oxygen kits, to assist in saving the lives of pets trapped and suffering smoke inhalation due to house fires.

Union President Justin Snow said this week that he’s thankful that crews have yet to use the devices so far.

“It’s always a good thing when we don’t have to use them, but just like with human beings, we always like to have the necessary equipment around in case the worst happens. It’s not a matter of if, but when,” he said.

The fire department bought the three mask kits in order to maintain one within each fire station engine in the Pahrump Valley.

Additionally, they purchased three replacement part kits to keep spares on hand at each of the stations.

The polycarbonate masks contain dual vents and a rubber-mounted 22 millimeter oxygen adapter which enables unrestricted inhalation and exhalation of air for the animal.

Each mask can also be quickly attached to what’s known as an “Ambu-Bag,” should the pet require manual breathing assistance.

Snow said the masks will assist the fire crews significantly, because unlike people, who attempt to escape their home during a blaze, pets instinctively look for hiding spots in homes to protect themselves from the fire.

“Many of my guys have pets and understand how they become an important part of the family. Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for dogs and cats to panic and hide then get trapped in fires. This will give us another way to do all we can to revive them after we pull them from the fire,” Snow said.

Snow said that PVFRS Chief Scott Lewis embraced the idea of purchasing the equipment and even went one step further.

“If we are going to put any equipment on the vehicles, it obviously comes under Chief Scott Lewis’ discretion. When we voted to spend our money to buy all three kits and the spares, I approached the chief before we spent the money. He asked a few questions about it and thought it was such a good idea, that he offered to split it 50-50. Fifty percent of the money came out of union members and 50 percent came from the chief’s discretionary budget,” he said.

The union president said homeowners should use common sense in the event of a house fire.

“The first priority is to get yourself out of the house as quickly as possible. Don’t go back in because most people don’t have the equipment and training and they quickly become overwhelmed. If you can’t find your pet, notify us and tell us where they most likely would be,” he said.

The AKC also offers advice for pet owners to keep their families and pets safe from house fires.

The tips suggest pet-proofing the home, especially where pets may inadvertently start a fire when around burning candles or cooking appliances.

The organization also suggests practicing escape routes and keeping collars and leashes handy in case owners have to evacuate the home quickly.

A Pet Alert Window Cling is also encouraged where owners write down the number of pets inside the home and attach the cling to a front window.

Such critical information saves rescuers’ time when locating scared pets.

Details are available at www.akc.org.