Fire Agency Adopts Large Animal Rescue Guidelines

Firefighters who respond to horse-related emergencies have a new tool now that the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) has adopted guidelines for carrying out large animal rescues. The guidelines are designed to ensure the safety of animals and humans during rescues, said Rebecca Gimenez, PhD, president and primary instructor of Technical Large Animal Emergency Rescue.

In December 2013, the NFPA—an international organization that provides codes, standards, training, and education for firefighters and other responders—adopted the "1670 Standard," which includes guidelines specifically addressing animal rescues. It is the first time such guidelines have been included in an NFPA standard, Gimenez said.

Gimenez said the guidelines cover, in part, recommended practices for emergency animal rescues and equipment used in such situations. Without specific guidelines, she said, some fire jurisdictions responded to emergencies involving horses and other animals without understanding how to carry out such rescues in the safest way possible for the animals and people involved.

John Haven, director of the University of Florida Veterinary School and chairman of the committee that wrote the guidelines, said the NFPA sanction might also help fire departments get funding they need for animal emergency-related training.

“Some agencies will not approve funding for training if there are no guidelines,” Haven said. “So some fire departments could not get the training they needed simply because there were no guidelines for animal rescues.”

Gimenez said she is already answering calls from fire jurisdictions about the new guidelines and how to get related training.

“That's how much a difference just having these guidelines makes,” she said.

About the Author

Pat Raia

Pat Raia is a veteran journalist who enjoys covering equine welfare, industry, and news. In her spare time, she enjoys riding her Tennessee Walking Horse, Sonny.

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