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Fire drills saved 2 Colorado Springs dogs

April 3, 2018 Updated: April 5, 2018 at 8:12 am
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photo - A combination of fire drill training and having a home security system may have saved Angela Campbell's dogs when she left the house and left food burning on the stove. Every week, Campbell trains her dogs with a fire alarm to head out the dog door when they hear the alarm and it paid off that one day. One of her four dogs, Dash, heads out of the doggy door when the alarm sounds as Campbell demonstrates their skills on Tuesday, April 3, 2018.  (Photo by Jerilee Bennett, The Gazette)
A combination of fire drill training and having a home security system may have saved Angela Campbell's dogs when she left the house and left food burning on the stove. Every week, Campbell trains her dogs with a fire alarm to head out the dog door when they hear the alarm and it paid off that one day. One of her four dogs, Dash, heads out of the doggy door when the alarm sounds as Campbell demonstrates their skills on Tuesday, April 3, 2018. (Photo by Jerilee Bennett, The Gazette) 

When Angela Campbell's stove caught fire Feb. 27 while she was away from home, her dogs knew what to do.

Six-year-old Sachiel and 14-year-old Piper heard the smoke alarm and rushed through their doggie door into the backyard at 1506 N. El Paso St. The house soon was engulfed by smoke.

It's a trick Campbell taught all four of her dogs - two of which were with her at the veterinarian's office when the fire sparked. She practices with them once a month.

"You don't want to lose your house, of course, but you especially don't want to lose a dog, because you can't replace them," she said.

For nearly 25 years, Campbell has conducted fire drills with her dogs. She said the training is no more difficult than teaching a dog any other trick.

"It's basic reward training," she said. "You get excited like it's a game, and then you give them treats at the end."

The most challenging part is ensuring that the dogs don't run back inside, Campbell said.

"A lot of dogs will want to go hide under a piece of furniture because they're scared. Thankfully, at least when the fire happened, they stayed outside," she said.

Colorado Springs Fire Department personnel said they don't know any other homeowners whose dogs have similar training.

"If they're in the backyard, then we can worry about extinguishing the fire and managing smoke," said Fire Capt. Brian Vaughan, department spokesman.

Campbell's house might not still be standing if not for the ADT Security Services dispatcher who called 911 when Campbell didn't answer her phone.

For his professionalism and rapidity, Rochester, N.Y.-based dispatcher Bob Duerr received ADT's Lifesaver Award for the second time in his six-year career.

Though he said he was "honored," the award was "extra special" when ADT flew Duerr to Colorado Springs to meet Campbell and her four-legged friends Tuesday.

"I know that anytime I get a call with animals involved, I'll always think of this incident," he said.

ADT also presented the Fire Department with a $5,000 check, which will be used for operational training.

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Contact Liz Forster: 636-0193

Twitter: @lizmforster

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