All Omaha fire engines and battalion chief vehicles will soon be equipped to help four-legged family members after fires.

The Fetch Foundation and Omaha Animal Medical Group teamed up to donate 18 “Fido Bags” to the department on Monday. Each bag contains a handful of items to help administer aid to pets after a fire.

About a half-million pets are involved in house fires each year, said Dr. Rod Van Horn, a veterinarian at Omaha Animal Medical Group. Of those pets, about 40,000 die from smoke inhalation, he said.

“Pets are part of the family,” Van Horn said. “We want to try to help owners and the pets.”

On about half of the department’s fire and medical calls, first responders run into pets, said Battalion Chief Scott Fitzpatrick. In his time with the department, Fitzpatrick has administered oxygen to cats on three different calls. All three had good outcomes.

“It seems like it’s true cats have nine lives,” he said.

The Fire Department has received donations of different sizes of pet oxygen masks in past years. This donation takes it a step further, allowing for all 24 engines and seven battalion chief vehicles to have bags, Fitzpatrick said.

Each bag is equipped with a handful of items, including leashes, oxygen masks designed to fit long snouts, a portable water dish, splint materials for pets who injured their legs and gloves to protect first responders from claws, among other things. They also include a DVD to help train first responders on how to use each item in the bag.

Fitzpatrick said it’s rewarding to help a pet at the scene of a fire.

“We always come on the worst day of their lives,” Fitzpatrick said. “For us to make any impact is rewarding to see, whether it’s a pet or a loved one. This will be great to take that next step to help even more.”

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