A cat rescued from a house fire has become the first pet in London to be given a special oxygen mask for small animals.
A blaze broke out in a detached house in Paddington, central London, where firefighters rescued two cats from the ground floor.
One of the felines needed oxygen treatment to help with its breathing, so the tiny cone-shaped mask was put over its face by rescuers. Both animals are now said to be doing well.
Four fire engines and around 25 firefighters were called to the inferno on Friday afternoon and found the space between the ground and first floors were damaged by the flames.
Firefighters were called just before midday and the blaze was under control around an hour and 15 minutes later.
The cause of the fire is now being investigated by experts, the London Fire Brigade said.
These specially adapted oxygen masks for pets used for the first time during this incident were donated by not-for-profit organisation Smokey Paws.
In the past when firefighters rescued animals that inhaled smoke, they had to improvise to try and revive them – but now these specialist kits can be used on dogs and cats as well as smaller animals like rabbits, snakes and mice.
The kits are made up of three sizes of domestic pet oxygen therapy masks, two rope leads and two sizes of muzzle.
Nathan Beeby, station officer at Paddington who was at the scene, said today (Tues): “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.
“Having the specialist equipment there also put the occupier at ease and they were really happy with the outcome.”
Initially the masks will be carried on fire engines in Battersea, south west London, Paddington, Richmond and Hammersmith in west London, as part of a pilot scheme.
If the trial is successful, the kits will be rolled out to stations across the capital.
Since 2019, London’s firefighters have gone to more than 100 fires involving dogs, cats and other pets such as rabbits and hamsters, the LFB said.
While crews do not always find out if the pets they rescue pull through, being able to administer oxygen with a properly fitted mask in the early stages will improve the chances for animals that have been saved from fires, a spokesman for the brigade added.
Dave O’Neill, the brigade’s deputy assistant commissioner for operational policy, said today: “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 roll out of three 64 meter ladders – the tallest in Europe – and eight 32m ladders.”