CLEARWATER -- This week in our "Behind the Scenes" series on WJON, we learn how to use some new equipment designed to save the lives of our four-legged friends in the event of a fire.

Losing your home in a fire is never an easy situation, and for some, losing a pet as a result is just as damaging.

"It's pretty traumatic for people, I think of a lot of these people and myself included who have pets, it's like a kid to them," says Eldred

Lt Nick Eldred is with the Clearwater Fire and Rescue Department. He says the new pet oxygen masks better equip first responders to protect pets from smoke inhalation.

"We've been at a loss as what to do to save them besides take what we have for medical equipment and try to piece something together to make it work," says Eldred.

The pet oxygen masks are part of Invisible Fence of Central Minnesota "Project Breathe" program. The goal is to provide firefighters with oxygen kits to help pets who are rescued from fires.

"They sent us three sizes of masks that can hook up to an oxygen tank and basically the masks wraps around the snout of an animal and we can force air just like we would a human," says Eldred.

Invisible Fence has donated more than 11,000 pet oxygen masks to fire stations across the U.S and Canada and reports say over 120 pets have been saved by the masks.

Nick says they are happy to use the makes and if they can save someones pet and provide the family some relief in a tragic situation, then the program is worth having.

"I'm not saying these will work perfectly but they are something to turn too and we can say 'hey we have an option' and can at least give it our best chance," says Eldred.

The Clearwater and Sauk Rapids fire departments are the first two stations in the area to use pet oxygen masks.

Area fire fighters now have a way to save pets suffering from smoke inhalation. (Photo: Alex Svejkovsky, WJON)