A MAJOR drive is now underway to ensure every firefighter in Ayrshire is equipped to save the lives of family pets caught up in devastating house fires.

Firefighters have always worked to resuscitate animals suffering from severe smoke inhalation – including adapting standard oxygen therapy kits used to treat people.

But now – thanks to a pioneering partnership between the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service and not-for-profit organisation Smokey Paws – crews are being given unique oxygen therapy kits especially for animals.

And they have been delivered to more than 270 fire stations across Scotland since the SFRS first joined forces with Smokey Paws in 2016.

The specially designed kits – many donated by animal lovers and big-hearted businesses - are designed to fit an animal’s nose and allow enhanced oxygen flow. They can provide emergency care for ponies, calves and even reptiles as well as cats and dogs.

But Smokey Paws founders Lynn Carberry and Brian Lockyer want to ensure that every one of Scotland’s 356 fire stations has a kit. Dedicated Brian said: “When we discovered UK fire and rescue services did not carry lifesaving pet oxygen masks, we imported a set of oxygen masks from the USA and donated them to our local fire service. As word spread more and more people came forward with offers to donate money to buy more pet oxygen masks for their local stations, to give their pets the best chance of survival in a house fire or road traffic accident.”

Local Senior Officer Paul Devlin added: “The number one priority for firefighters is to save all life and we have seen on too many occasions the huge impact the loss of a beloved pet can have. In November 2015 there was a single Scottish community fire station in possession of one of these kits. Three years on it is mind blowing to see first-hand the generosity of so many people.”