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Firefighter Creates System to Save Pets from Home Fires

Press Release

July 15, 2011

For years, Firefighter Rick Rickerson has been plagued by a problem. According to the National Volunteer Fire Council, each year in the United States, approximately 500,000 pets are affected by home fires; and according to the Live Safe Foundation, around 40,000 of those pets die every year. Unfortunately, Rickerson has been witness to this fact more than most people.

As a battalion chief with a Metro Atlanta Fire-Rescue Department and an avid pet lover, he recalls a particular time when a small residential fire did so little damage that only the cabinets above the stove were burned. Within minutes of extinguishing the fire and giving the all clear, firefighters saw the homeowners rush to the scene. With agony in their voices, they cried, “Where’s Rusty?”

“I can’t explain my fearful thoughts at that moment,” says Rickerson. “We had already performed a primary and secondary search for occupants, but we didn’t know there was a pet in the home.”

Sadly, the family’s 11-year-old poodle had been hiding under the bed and had died of smoke asphyxiation in his small lungs. Attempts to revive him were unsuccessful.

Unfortunately, this type of situation is not an isolated incident. All too often, firefighters simply don’t know there are pets in the home until it’s too late. This fact is what prompted Rickerson to develop a product he calls Pet Fire Alert™. It’s an outdoor information system to alert emergency personnel of pets in the home.

The system costs $89.00 and includes numerous elements, including a mailbox sign and yard sign to alert arriving first responders that the home is a Pet Fire Alert home. Next, standard firefighter protocol will have a trained fire officer make a 360 degree walk around the home looking for clues regarding the fire and locating the electric meter, since the power must be turned off immediately for firefighter and occupant safety.

Near the electric meter is where another element of the Pet Fire Alert system is located: a container that holds valuable information such as the number of pets, type of animals, areas to search, and more. The container also includes a couple of leashes to secure rescued pets and information on whom to contact to care for the animals.

“I’ve spent years creating an affordable system so that the first arriving emergency personnel will know you have pets in your home,” says Rickerson. “I just felt that our pets give us so much, yet ask so little, and every life is worth saving.”

For more information, or to order a Pet Fire Alert system, visit