Avon Fire & Rescue Service (AF&RS) firefighters from Weston-super-Mare Fire Station are taking part in the trial of new equipment which could help family pets in the event of a fire.
Between April 2014 and March 2015 AF&RS rescued nine dogs and one cat from house fires.
Three specially designed pet oxygen masks, which have been provided by the not-for-profit organisation Smokey Paws, are now being carried on fire engines in the town.
Station Manager Jon Brown said: “In the event of a fire in the home families with animals are always concerned about how their pets will get out of the property. Firefighters often have to enter premises to search for missing animals which may have taken in smoke.
“We can be asked to search a smoke-filled house for an animal and when we find it, it may be unconscious and not breathing. In some cases pets are can be affected by smoke much quicker than humans.
“This new equipment means we have special masks to use on dogs and cats which may need oxygen. A few minutes can be the difference between life and death so the sooner we can give oxygen the better and this equipment allows us to do this.”
The equipment has been introduced thanks to Watch Manager Anna James and the trial is expected to last around six months.
Brian Lockyer from Smokey Paws said: “We believe it is likely that hundreds of pets suffer from smoke inhalation across the UK every year. It is proven in other countries that pet oxygen masks have increased survival rates significantly, as the human oxygen masks are ineffective on most pets.
“Smokey Paws’ mission is to raise enough money through public donations, to equip every First Responder in the UK with these lifesaving masks. We believe every pet deserves the same chance of survival as other family members do."
To find out more and donate visit www.smokeypaws.co.uk.