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Pet Fire Safety

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According to the American Kennel Club (AKC), an estimated 500,000 pets in the United States are affected by devastating home fires each year! 

Throughout the week, Portland Fire & Rescue will be providing helpful prevention, escape, and rescue tips for pet owners.  It is important to US to help keep EVERY member of your family safe! 

To keep pets safe, it’s important to plan for unexpected emergencies such as house fires.  The tips below will help keep your pets safe and sound from house fires:

Extinguish Open Flames - Pets are generally curious and will investigate cooking appliances, candles, or even a fire in your fireplace. Ensure your pet is not left unattended around an open flame and make sure to thoroughly extinguish any open flame before leaving your home.

Pet Proof the Home - Take a walk around your home and look for areas where pets might start fires inadvertently, such as the stove knobs, loose wires and other potential hazards.

Secure Young Pets - Especially with young puppies, keep them confined away from potential fire-starting hazards when you are away from home.

Keep Pets Near Entrances – When leaving pets home alone, keep them in areas or rooms near entrances, preferably on the ground floor, where firefighters can easily find them.

Practicing Escape Routes with Pets – Be sure that your pets are part of your organized evacuation plan. Rehearse your plan repeatedly with your family, including your pets. Make sure to keep collars and leashes at the ready in case you have to evacuate quickly with your pet or firefighters need to rescue your pet.

Since Pets Left Alone Can’t Escape a Burning Home – Use monitored smoke detectors which are connected to a monitoring center, providing an added layer of protection beyond battery-operated smoke alarms.


Keep Your Information Updated - Firefighters are familiar with pet alert window clings so keep the number of pets listed on them updated. Knowing the accurate number of pets in the house can aid rescuers in locating your pets.  Note that Portland firefighters do look for pets.  It doesn't take a sticker: if a neighbor says there may be pets inside a burning house, firefighters will look.  Portland firefighter’s first priority is saving human lives -- including their own.  

Pet Disaster Kit: Assemble a pet disaster kit that includes a supply of your pet’s food and treats, water, vaccination records and medications, emergency contact information including your veterinarian’s number, a favorite toy and an extra leash and collar with your pet's identification.

Emergency Boarding: Research pet organizations in your area ahead of time, so you will have a place to board your animal in case of emergency.  

Neighbors: Give a key to a trusted neighbor, and make sure they know where your pet might be located within the house so they can inform firefighters.

Working Smoke Detectors: Pets are members of the family too, and their safety depends on your ability to comply with standard fire safety measures. Be sure to have working smoke detectors on every level of the home and near bedrooms, and keep hallways and home exits free of clutter.

Check back tomorrow to learn about the specialty equipment Portland Fire & Rescue uses to help pets who are suffering from smoke inhalation!

February 1, 2010


NEWS RELEASE 12/31/10: Portland Fire & Rescue Stops Fire From Spreading to Second Business

Portland Fire & Rescue (PF&R) was dispatched at 8:35 a.m. on Sunday, January 31, 2010 to a commerical fire at "The Modern Hippie" located on the 49th block of SE Division.

Engine 9 arrived on scene at 8:37 a.m. to see smoke coming from the front door and fire coming out of a second story window 18 inches away from the business next door. Firefighters were also told that the occupant who lives upstairs had not gotten out of the structure. The Incident Commander called for a 2nd Alarm at 8:39 a.m. due to the need for extra fire crews. The 1st Alarm fire crews immediately began attacking the fire on the interior of the building, defending the business next door and began searching for the missing occupant on the second floor. Fire crews were able to establish that the occupant had gotten out safely and contain the fire to the building of origin. The fire was under control at 9:02 a.m. with the use of only the 1st Alarm companies. The 2nd Alarm companies were released from their staging location two blocks away.


The value of the structure is set at $160,000 with a loss of $130,000. There was a loss of $50,000 worth of contents. The fire extensively damaged the building and the roof had to be removed. The Red Cross is housing the occupant for the night. The fire cause is still under investigation by PF&R fire investigators. No injuries occurred.

Response included:

  • 8 engines
  • 4 trucks
  • 1 heavy rescue
  • 5 chiefs
  • 1 rehab vehicle
  • 3 investigators
  • 1 Public Information Officer to the scene
  • Total of 62 firefighters

January 31, 2010

PF&R Cares About Pets Too!

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Courtesy of YouTube, Daytona Beach Fire

In February 2007, through a generous donation from H.E.L.P. ANIMALS INC., Portland Fire & Rescue (PF&R) received a supply of oxygen masks for pets. In efforts to ensure the safety of pets, PF&R continues this program, training all PF&R firefighters in the proper use of pet masks in emergency situations.


The masks come in three sizes (small, medium and large) and fit snuggly on snouts. The masks can be used on dogs, cats, ferrets, rabbits, guinea pigs, and birds. The oxygen masks are used to resuscitate animals that have been rescued from fires and have been exposed to smoke or need supplemental oxygen due to respiratory disease. The oxygen mask is applied over the pet’s nose and mouth, creating a seal. Oxygen is then funneled to the distressed pet through the use of an oxygen bag or an oxygen cylinder.

The pet oxygen masks were originally developed for use by veterinarians but have evolved into rescue tools over the past several years. The kits that include a small, medium, and large mask cost approximately $55.00 a piece.  Most masks are reusable.   


Pet oxygen kits are stored in PF&R’s Chiefs’ vehicles and can quickly arrive on emergency scenes throughout the City.




H.E.L.P. ANIMALS INC. is a 501(c)3, tax deductible, non-profit, all volunteer organization established in 2003 that started a civic project to provide animal oxygen recovery masks to be put on local Fire agency apparatus to save animals overcome with smoke. Visit their website at to learn more and help! 

February 2, 2010

The Rest of the Story - Do You Know What's In Your Backyard?

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Photo courtesy of Beth Nakamura, The Oregonian

On January 16, 2010, Portland Fire & Rescue (PF&R) responded to a welfare check on SW 52nd Avenue and discovered what was later determined to be a tragic accident.  A 57-year-old SW Portland man had fallen into a 100-year-old, 35' deep cistern while gardening in his backyard.  With the water level 15' below the rim, the man was unable to escape and died.

Firefighter Justin de Ruyter was a first responder on the scene and Portland Fire's Public Information Officer that weekend.  After his experience, de Ruyter developed a new series for Fire Blog readers called "The Rest of the Story".  Through these blogs, Portland Fire will be following up on emergencies it responds to when a specific safety message can be beneficial for the public resulting from an incident.

According to de Ruyter, farmers commonly used cisterns to store water underground and used a windmill or some other type of pump to water crops and livestock.  Over time, cisterns became obsolete and were forgotten when the land was converted to residential or other uses.  Often times, cisterns were simply covered with boards and dirt.  With Portland's aging housing stock, properties have transferred; lawns, gardens, and construction have erased evidence of old cisterns; and the tops of cisterns that were not properly filled may have experienced decades of decay and weathering. 


Photo Examples of Cisterns

While people should not be fearful, it is important to know that old, abandoned cisterns, well pits, and septic cesspools exist in many locations and pose a rare, but serious threat to public safety.  In August 2009, a man was critically injured in Florida after falling 14 feet into an abandoned cistern in the backyard of a historic Key West home; the cistern's concrete lid was being used as a patio.  Accidents such as these may not always be preventable, but there are some steps that property owners can take to educate themselves about their property's history, including:

  • Cisterns often appear as a ring of concrete, tile, bricks, or rocks several feet in diameter.  A depression could indicate a cistern or abandoned septic cesspool that was not properly decommissioned.  If you have concerns about a depression on your property, a licensed plumbing or sewer contractor may be able to help determine whether you may have any of these facilities on your property.
  • County and City building records, some of which are available online at, date back to 1905 and may provide valuable information about your property's development history.  Development permit and records information is also available at the City of Portland's Bureau of Development Services.  Visit them at 1900 SW Fourth Avenue, First Floor or call 503-823-7660.
  • Sanborn Maps were originally created for assessing fire insurance liability in urbanized areas. The maps include detailed information regarding urban geography and building information in U.S. towns and cities from 1867 to 1970 and can be accessed for free through the Multnomah County Library by visiting; select research, databases A-Z and Sanborn Maps.
  • The Oregon Water Resources Department maintains historical data on water wells and regulates the decommissioning of wells.  Some of the data is available online at<>.

Stay tuned to the Fire Blog for future updates on emergency incidents and steps you can take to be informed, prepared and safe.

February 2, 2010