RIVERTON — Kenna, a four-year-old Dalmatian and companion to Riverton Volunteer Fire Co. Lieutenant Tyler O’Neil, received more than 6,000 votes in a contest to win pet oxygen masks.
The contest, held by Kidde, a manufacturer of residential smoke alarms, carbon monoxide alarms, fire extinguishers and safety accessories, aims to celebrate fire station dogs. The Fire Service Dog of the Year contest awarded the top winner a prize of 10 pet oxygen masks from Kidde.
Kenna didn’t win the contest, but gaining more than 6,000 votes made O’Neil very proud.
“She’s the sweetest little Dalmatian I’ve ever met,” he said. “She’s very cuddly. She loves to run and play and meet people; she’s very friendly.
Kenna spends time at the firehouse and attends parades and other events with Riverton members. “She’s more of a show dog for the department,” O’Neil said. “Everyone loves to pet the firehouse dog.”
Riverton has two Kidde pet oxygen masks, which are kept on one of the company’s trucks. “If we had won, we would have put them on every truck,” O’Neil said. “But there’s always next year.”
The Fire Service Dog of the Year contest is used by the company “to raise awareness that, like humans, pets are susceptible to the dangers of smoke, fire and carbon monoxide. Each year, 500,000 pets suffer from smoke inhalation and 40,000 die due to home fires,” said Sharon Cooksey, the company’s fire safety educator.
Cooksey provided several safety tips to protect pets in case of a fire.
In an emergency, first responders need to be able to quickly assess the number of pets in a home. Consider attaching a non-adhesive decal to a window near the front door to let rescuers know how many animals are inside.
Pets should always be included in a family’s evacuation plan. Stay aware of their typical hiding spots or locations where they often nap in case quick evacuation is necessary.
When residents are not home, they should keep pets in areas near entrances where firefighters can easily find them.
Smoke alarms must be replaced after 10 years. In addition to testing alarms once each week, check the manufacturing date on a home’s smoke alarms to make sure they are newer than 10 years of age. If they are older than that, it is time to replace them.
Riverton uses Kidde smoke alarms, and will replace or install them for residents who need them.
Riverton company members are getting ready to hold their food booth at the Riverton Fair, which opens Friday and continues through Sunday at the fairgrounds at 12 Riverton Road, in the Riverton section of Barkhamsted.
“The fire company sells burgers and hot dogs, as well as breakfast sandwiches in the morning, and we also sell slices of pies, which are donated by different people from the community,” said O’Neil, who has been a member of Riverton for about four years. Before that, he served with South End Fire and Pine Meadow in New Hartford.
The fair booth is just of the company’s annual fundraising efforts, which members were unable to hold during the pandemic.
“We need help financially, and it’s not just us,” O’Neil said. “Every volunteer fire department has been hurting. We usually have our breakfasts and our dinners during the year, so we took a hit last year. The Riverton Fair is a big fundraiser for us.”
Riverton has about a 24 members, about half of whom are certified. “We have some members attending fire school right now,” O’Neil said. “COVID-19 is affecting fire companies everywhere, but the other problem is that nobody’s volunteering. Nobody wants to do this for free, but we need all the help we can get.
“It’s a big commitment, with lots of class time, and you’re spending time away from your families. But it’s important. For me, it’s rewarding to give back to the community and keep people safe. I enjoy it. I like going out on the calls and when it’s quiet, going down to the firehouse and cleaning the fire trucks. It’s fun to do the parades and events.”
For information on the Riverton Volunteer Fire Co., visit the Facebook page.