BLOOMINGTON, Ill. (WMBD) — Dogs are man’s best friend and humans love their animals, so how do we keep them safe during a fire?

Bloomington Fire Department‘s public information officer Frank Friend said the fire department and the Miller Park Zoo officials worked well together to put out the fire that struck the zoo Monday night.

He said the firefighters relied on the zookeepers and workers’ expertise in order to keep the animals as safe as possible during the fire.

“We’ve developed an excellent relationship with the zoo,” Friend said. “We really rely on their expertise and they’re top-notch at what they do, we’re pretty good at what we do.”

Friend said as the two groups worked together, he realized it was a unique situation as the fire crews looked to the zoo for guidance on how to keep the animals safe.

“Us putting water on the fire, ventilating the building, it allows them to operate safely within the confines of the building to get those animals into safety,” said Friend. “So we provide the safety aspect of it in the environment and we rely on them and their expertise to show us how best to help them rescue the animals. So it is kind of unique in that regard, because typically the fire department doesn’t look to other agencies to rescue people, we’re in the rescue business.”

He also said that the fire department has special plans set in place when it comes to places such as the zoo. The zoo had construction happening over the summer so they had to switch the plans to work with where they could get into. He said it is important to come up with the plans before they happen and it is all about providing the zoo workers with a safe environment and getting the animals in a better, safer place.

When it comes to animal safety, the fire department has special equipment that helps with animals who suffer from smoke inhalation.

“Something that people might not know is the fire department carries some unique equipment to provide oxygen for animals that had sustained smoke inhalation,” said Friend. “We also work with local law enforcement and K9 officers in case those K9 officers, the dogs, happened to be injured in the line of duty. We do actually have quite a bit of training there when it comes to pet survival and pet handling in the case of injury or illness.”

Friend said there are several ways that people can keep their animals safe. He said to keep leashes and collars close to the door. He also advised that if you crate your animal, make sure the crates are in an area where you can easily get your pet and get them out or you can take the whole crate and get them out.

He said although people first think to get their pets out, it is better for their safety to get out of the building and the fire department will get to the pets, especially if they get scared and hide.

“Often times we’ll see that cats will hide within the building,” said Friend. “We don’t want you to go look for your cat, we want you to get out of the building and we will find your cat. Cats are extremely tough, I’ve seen cats survive building fires that were phenomenal, I couldn’t believe it. Not only did they survive, but they thrived afterward. Dogs as well, but dogs tend to run when the smoke alarm goes off. Whatever you do, don’t waste time staying in the building, we want you to get out of the building and we’ll get your pets.”

Firefighters worry about three things when they get to a fire: people, pets, and property.

“We understand the importance pets play in people’s lives,” said Friend. “The important thing to remember is that when we apply water to the fire, we put ourselves between the victims and the fire. Applying that water, the chances of survival increase greatly. That’s the main thing that we do in order to save anybody’s life, whether it be a person or a pet.”

The moral is to make sure that the people are safe when it comes to fires. If you can grab your pet quickly and get out, do that, but if your pet runs away or gets scared and hides, get out and the fire department will work to get your pets out and take care of them so they are safe and healthy for a long time to come.