Being part of a combination county fire service, we have a appointed fire chief and staff to control the operations. They are involved in creating General Orders for all to operate under. Just lately a GO came out about fire station dogs or pets in the stations. If the station has a animal it has to be a service or therapy animal and all info concerning it. Now most of the stations that have a dog or pet are volunteer fire companies or stations with a combination staff. Many are taking offense to the GO feeling its unfair and pointing fingers at others in the fire service for the GO being created.
Another neighboring combination fire service allow dogs or pets as therapy animals in their stations or even fire safety ambassadors for public safety events by participating in a program about fire safety. Then there fire stations that adopt a homeless animal that shows up at their door step and just fit in with the crew.
There will be someone who can't deal with animals because of their health or other reasons but how can they handle being in the fire service when at anytime they could ended up working around animals at a incident.
This is a tough subject!
For years now, firefighters across the nation have had their traditions stripped away from them. Mostly because of safety concerns, realizing we didn't always make the best choices ( i.e tailboard firefighters ).One tradition that was faded out was the station dog. For many different reasons, animals were removed from the Fire Stations. You hit the nail on the head with the health concerns of members in the station. Years ago, you would have been told to "get over it, go buy some allergy medication or something". And then we realized that we cant force anyone to work like that.
BUT..... now we've transitioned into this push for firefighter health and wellness. And with that, we've basically piggybacked off of the military and the idea of "therapy pets" is seemingly sweeping the fire service. Don't get me wrong, I am a firm believer in the healing powers of a dog. I've cuddle with my pup many a mornings after a long shift. But to try and use that as an excuse to bring back a tradition that we've outgrown is, in my opinion, a farce.
Now, if your department has always allowed pets and you currently have one, great! But don't say, we need a Station Pet for therapy, because you want to look like the All-American Fire Station.
much of that revolves around personal prejudice concerning certain animals.
for instance if a person is a cat hater they will tend to ignore a cat during a fire scene. in spite of all the rescue films that abound I have seen it happen. same with dogs!
but as a firefighter you must put that prejudice on the back shelf or get rid of it entirely.
a life is a life whether its canine, feline, or human
while there is allergy issues to consider if you are handling an animal during a fire you are usually gloved and can hand the animal off to someone non allergic as soon as you are clear of the building
having them in house can be problematic if you are a volunteer dept. due to a lack of a dedicated caretaker. and it is unfair to the animal to be left alone in an unoccupied building.
manned stations have duty crews and if they are amendable to having a station mascot/pet is a therapeutic device for both the crew and the animal
a properly socialized dog in a fire dept will be friendly with all members and the public and can be a tremendous comfort during a tragic or disturbing event.
I cannot say you should have one or shouldn't but its up to the entire dept. to decide not just the line officers.