Lerwick has become the first Scottish Fire & Rescue Service (SFRS) island fire station to receive a set of “Smokey Paws” oxygen masks specifically designed for use with animals.
The move came about due to the efforts of friends Tricia Brown and Pheona Horne, who set about raising funds locally.
Construction company DITT has also kindly sponsored a second set of masks which will be donated to Scalloway Fire Station and further sets have been ordered for the stations at Brae and Bixter.
Mrs Brown said: “Pheona and I have been going to car boot sales for years and have made donations to a number of animal charities. When I read about Smokey Paws back in early 2016, I thought it was a really good cause and was keen to try and secure sets of masks for the 16 fire engines in Shetland.
“Smokey Paws is a ‘not for profit’ organisation that was set up in England in April 2015 by Brian and Lynn Lockyer with the aim of providing sets of three different sized oxygen masks designed specifically for use with animals, to fire brigades and first responders in the UK.
“Ron Ewing, Fellow of the Institute of Fire Prevention Officers and Paul Devlin, group commander at SFRS West Region, then set up Smokey Paws (Scotland) with Brian and Lynn’s agreement.”
Smokey Paws is keen for local groups and businesses to join in and provide sponsorship for the worthy cause by donating funds to sponsor a set of masks for their local fire engine.
Mrs Brown said: “Each set of masks costs £90 which might seem a lot of money but is nothing compared to the heartache of losing a beloved pet or working animal in a fire.
“The masks have been used to resuscitate all sizes of animals, including guinea pigs, snakes, a horse and even a ewe and newborn lambs after a barn fire in England.”
In June 2016 Mr Devlin helped Smokey Paws establish a partnership with the Scottish Fire & Rescue Service and thanks to executive committee member Ron Ewing, the executive council of the Institute of Fire Prevention Officers unanimously decided to formally endorse and support Smokey Paws in July last year.
Smokey Paws was also presented with the William Wilberforce award in London last month by the RSPCA (awarded for work to bring people and animals closer together).
Lerwick Fire Station manager Graham Reid said: “We are delighted that Tricia and Pheona have so kindly decided to raise the funds, to put these excellent pieces of kit onto SFRS fire appliances here in Shetland.
“The equipment works in conjunction with the oxygen resuscitation equipment we already carry on our fire appliances. Having this additional equipment means we can now use our O2 equipment to resuscitate a wide range of animals if the need arises.
“From my own personal experience as an operational Fire Officer, I have seen how valuable oxygen therapy equipment can be in reviving both people and animals, having used it on cats, dogs, birds and even a tortoise to great effect.
“The effects of smoke inhalation can have devastating effects during and after a fire, which is why I would urge everybody to ensure they have working smoke alarms in their property and to always ensure that all doors are closed when going to bed at night to prevent the spread of smoke and fire, should the unthinkable happen.
“I would personally like to express my sincerest gratitude to Tricia and Pheona for all their hard work and efforts, and also DITT for their kind donation, all of which has ensured this equipment is now available for use here in Shetland.”
For further information visit smokeypaws.co.uk or contact Mrs Brown on (01595) 880418 if you are intending to fund raise for a local fire engine.