LARGS firefighters have accepted a new piece of kit to help save the lives of pets caught up in house fires.

Local woman Julie Laing has kindly donated a 'Smokey Paws' oxygen mask, which the team will be able to use to administer oxygen therapy to stricken animals.

The masks are specially designed to fit over the snout and deliver a better flow of oxygen, increasing the chance of reviving the pet or keeping them conscious.

A station spokesperson said: "Thanks go to Julie from all the crew at Largs.

"This equipment could be the difference between saving the life or not of a beloved pet."

The masks can be used on a wide variety of animals, including dogs, cats, guinea pigs, sheep, ponies and hamsters.

As the mask can be reused, it will continue to save pets and animals for years to come.

Julie, who is a former Largs and Millport Weekly News journalist, said: "I found out about the Smokey Paws charity online some time ago.

"I thought it was a good idea and a worthy cause for our furry friends.

"I recently donated a kit to Crieff a while back and have now decided to donate one to Largs too.

"The crew was great and very supportive of the initiative."

The Smokey Paws project was launched when Lynn and Brian Lockyer from Weston-Super-Mare discovered that the fire service did not carry lifesaving pet oxygen masks.

They imported equipment from the USA and donated them to their local fire crew.

As word spread of their donation, more and more people came forward with offers to buy more pet oxygen masks for their local stations and give their pets the best chance of survival in a house fire or road traffic accident.

A total of 46 per cent of households in the country have pets with approximately 40,000 house fires per year. Unlike humans, pets will normally from fire within the house and therefore suffer smoke inhalation much quicker than a person.