The Scottsboro Fire Department now has rescue masks specifically designed for pets on their fire engines. Thanks to a program started by Jim Barnette, three sets of Pet Rescue Masks were donated to the Scottsboro Fire Department. Barnette works as a Paramedic Supervisor for HEMSI but was inspired to provide pet masks to every fire department in North Alabama by his love of animals. Barnette organized a GoFundMe project to provide pet oxygen masks to fire departments in partnership with the Invisible Fence Company’s Project Breathe. So far, the project has placed masks in every fire station in Madison County and now in Scottsboro.
The Scottsboro Fire Department accepted the masks Monday. Each set contains different sizes of masks designed to fit pets large and small. The masks provide a way to give oxygen to pets in the event of smoke inhalation from fire, and also adapt to fit equipment so responders can provide breaths for animals much like they would for a person. Barnette was motivated to extend the project across North Alabama following an August 13th Scottsboro house fire where the owners tragically lost 9 pets.
“Those events are tough, firefighters train and work very hard to save lives and that includes pets. For many people, their furry friends are family and its very traumatic for anybody to lose a family member in a fire,” said Scottsboro Fire Chief Gene Necklaus
“The core of a fire department’s purpose is to save lives and property. A mentor fire chief once told me ‘People, pets, pictures, and pills are important to the citizens. Do everything you can to save those.’ At the same time, it takes a lot of money to run a fire department, and departments have to prioritize the purchases they can make. We all do the best we can with what we have financially, and firefighter safety equipment, EMS equipment, and so forth often consume the available funds. That’s why Mr. Barnette’s project is important. A lot of departments would love to have these pet-saving tools but have so many other needs they may not be able to. If these masks can help someone’s beloved pet, that is an invaluable gift,” said Necklaus
Barnette says he hopes to put a set of pet masks in every fire station in 16 North Alabama counties, but it will take both time and money. A single set of masks costs about $60 each and another $900 is needed just to finish Jackson County. Those that want to help can donate through the Save a Pet in North Alabama GoFundMe project; all funds are going to provide the rescue masks.