2012-02-16 / Local News

Gifted masks will aid fire districts

On Feb. 21, the Rochester/Buffalo division of Project Breathe will attend the monthly Cheektowaga Fire Chiefs meeting to demonstrate and donate pet oxygen mask kits.

Every fire district in Cheektowaga as well as the villages of Sloan and Depew will be equipped with life-saving pet oxygen mask kits. In addition to donating 20 kits, Project Breathe will also be demonstrating and training the fire chiefs on how to use and maintain the masks.

The Town of Cheektowaga is protected by 10 fire districts, which are served by 11 fire companies. Every month, fire chiefs from each district and both villages have an organizational meeting. Depending on the size, each district will receive one or more kits at the next meeting.

“It was really important to us that every fire district within the Cheektowaga area received a mask,” said Tony Hettinger, Project Breathe’s director. “These pet oxygen mask kits are the difference between saving a pet’s life or not.”

Cheektowaga is one of the first areas in Western New York to be outfitted with life saving pet oxygen mask kits, according to Project Breathe.

It is estimated that around 100,000 pets die each year in house fires, most due to smoke inhalation. Project Breathe was created to reduce these numbers. Project Breathe is a nonprofit organization that donates pet oxygen mask kits to local fire departments throughout the U.S. and Canada. Donations are made possible by a Charitable Gift fund, where people can donate directly to Project Breathe at www.projectbreathe.org.

To date, more than 9,500 mask kits have been donated to departments throughout the country.

Kurt Spieler, chief of the Forks Fire District in Cheektowaga, contacted Project Breathe regarding the donation when his wife learned of the organization after attending a local pet expo. Chief Spieler says countless times throughout his career in the volunteer fire service he has seen pets rescued only for the firefighters not to have the proper equipment outside to further help.

“These kits will allow us to effectively render medical assistance to family pets in distress from smoke inhalation,” Spieler said.

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