Aledo fire department receives pet oxygen masks

Staff Writer
Aledo Times Record
Phillip Vroman, owner of Invisible Fence of the Quad Cities, left, recently donated two animal oxygen rescue kits to the Aledo Fire Department. Receiving the donation were firefighter Nick Seefeld, center, and Fire Chief Dennis Litwiler. CATHY DECKER/Times Record

When a fire hits a family home the first inclination is to save the people living in the home. But pets often are considered family members and the Aledo Fire Department is now equipped to help save them as well.

Invisible Fence of the Quad Cities recently donated two pet oxygen mask kits to the Aledo Fire department to use during fire calls. An initiative called Project Breathe was begun in 1973 and has led to more than 12,000 masks donated to fire departments and emergency management systems throughout the United States and Canada.

Each kit includes a small, medium, and large mask. Fire departments are eligible to receive one kit per station. So far, the program has saved an estimated 10,000 pets from fires and smoke inhalation.

Phillip Vroman, owner of Invisible Fence of the Quad Cities, presented the kits during a recent training session at the fire station. Aledo and surrounding areas are now joining the ranks of cities like Seattle, Chicago, Denver and Salt Lake City, who have all received donated pet oxygen masks from the Project Breathe program.

“The number one priority is having the right equipment,” Vroman told the firefighters. “It can make all the difference in the world. It’s what veterinarians use in their offices.”  Kits contain three sizes of masks and laminated instructions. “The large (size) is the most versatile.

He said the masks will hook up with the oxygen used by the fire departments and giving from three to four minutes of oxygen can make a difference. He recommended that pet owners immediately take their pets to their veterinarians after oxygen use to rule out any other complications.

Although the number of pets that die in fires is not an official statistic kept by the US Fire Administration, industry web sites and sources have cited an estimated 40,000 TO 150,000 pets that die in house fires each year, most succumbing to smoke inhalation. In most states, emergency personnel are unequipped to deal with the crisis.

A company web site — — has been set up for other agencies needing more information on pet rescue systems. Mr. Vroman can also be contacted at via email at or by phone at (309) 797-1688.