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Did you hear the one about the cat, the Doritos bag, the utililty pole & the firefighters? It really happened in St. Petersburg, Florida.

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Which came first the climb to the top of the pole or the bag? No one seems to know for sure just how a cat ended up on the top of a pole in St. Petersburg, Florida on Tuesday with a Doritos bag on its head. Lt. Ron Kidwell of St. Petersburg Fire Rescue & Station 1 and a newly hired firefighter, Kelly Blake, dealt more with how to get it down rather than worrying how it got there.

Kameel Stanley, Tampa Bay Times:

“That cat was just shaking,” Kidwell said. “It had no idea what was going on.”

As the animal teetered, Blake reached out with gloved hands.

The cat squirmed. The red Doritos bag went flying.

It was about 20 feet to the ground, but the cat landed on its feet, Kidwell said.

It was last seen running behind a nearby house.

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Comments - Add Yours

  • Dickey


    Biggest waste of resources and unnecessary risk to the personnel and equipment I have ever seen. As a chief officer, how would you explain to the family of the fallen firefighter after getting electrocuted by the powerlines if something went wrong? Not to mention the equipment damage.

    Obviously the cat would figure it out eventually, he was just rushed by the firefighters. The cat could have easily gotten that bag off if it wanted to. It didn’t have a hard time breathing that’s for sure. Some will say this was good public relations. The better public relations and the least amount of risk to everyone would be to contact the power company and let them handle it. I can almost bet my next paycheck that they would say as long as the animal is alive and not causing a problem they will let it be. That would be my answer if someone contacted me about the same incident. Cats can survive higher falls without injury, they are cats!

    Very poor judgement by whomever was in charge, at least in my opinion.

  • Legeros

    There’s hard news, and then there’s crunchy news…

  • Eric

    These situations leave the department in a no win situation. The department serves the community and the community seems to be evenly divided about how to handle them. I will agree with one community member who simply stated “if the FD is responsible for saving lives and an animal is deemed to be in danger, they should act.” In this case yes the cat might have made it down. If this was ignored, you introduce the risk of what might happen should a citizen or god forbid child with good intentions attempt their own rescue. We can learn from this video that on incidents such as these coordination with local animal control or wildlife resources is needed. Sending someone to grab a scared animal and thinking that they could hold it was a poor command decision. This put the members in the bucket at risk of scratch or bite. The use of a catch pole or other way to restrain the cat knowing that it was likely to freak out was needed and warranted.

  • Brian

    Best answer, and I cannot claim fame for this, is local FF on the phone says to lady on the phone: “Mam, we don’t come get cats down”. Then: “Did you ever see a dead cat in a tree?” End of the answer.

  • Brian

    At least someone didn’t call 9-1-1 when their dog collapsed and called it their daughter sending PD, EMS, and fire screaming across town lights and siren in response.

  • Craig Moyer

    Sometimes a waste a resources bring the biggest rewards.
    My department was asked to get a cat out of a tree after the district it was in refused. They said it was okay for us to do it. Well 20 minutes later there was a crowd of 50 people then the local paper showed up followed by 2 radio stations and a TV crew. I guess it was slow news day. Well guess who was on the news looking good. THE FIRE DEPARTMENT.
    I teach safety classes and I tell people if you think you need 9-1-1 call them. How can I say your wrong when calling for something when I might need them for something you think is stupid. After working as a call taker for 7 years I know the stupid calls. From how to cook a turkey to directions from whats the weather in Madison WI (I live in Delaware)
    As firefighters its what we do….or at least used to do.

  • SFC

    I agree with Dickey. I would have notified the power company.

    If it got fried, it still tastes like chicken.

  • In The Hood

    Throw a rock and knock it off. It will still have 8 lives and you save alot of time and fuel.

  • bcr

    to the guys worried about getting fried the pole it is sitting on is a light pole. the wires you see are insulated wires that have 110 volts in them just like house wires.

  • Seasoned Vet

    Looks like a good training exercise to me.

  • Marco Lopez

    I always hear that same old “waste of resources” argument on these animal rescues. Sure, they’re not my favorite pastime, either… but how do you argue that rescuing a cat is a waste of resources but driving the apparatus to the grocery store every day is not?

    I consider an animal rescue as training. In this instance, the guys are getting to use the ladder truck somewhere besides the drill tower. As long as the officer knew what those wires were and the probie used PPE (which it appears he did)… then I say good for them.

    Lastly, our motto is to save lives and property. Last time I checked, pets sort of fell into both categories.


    Well, as always, we can come away with knowledge from this fire/rescue-porn…. A cat can fall 20 plus feet and still sprint off the scene. There is a difference between a pole that serves for lighting purposes and one that has uninsulated primaries for power distribution. But, the biggest issue is one that Eric stated in his post that I would like to expand upon. If you receive a bite or a scratch from a cat there is always the Rabies issue. If you cannot capture the cat or any animal for observation post exposure then Rabies Prophylaxis Treatment has to be performed. So, if you put untrained fire personnel in this situation, who is the one being incompetant and/or uncaring.I would have had an animal control officer in the bucket.

  • RJ(in florida)

    this happened one county north of me and everyone has a good point about how it should have been handeled but in my expierence, people love animals…they hate people. we had a cat in a bank vacume tube once and (12 hours later) we got the cat out and it was considered to be a waste of reasources by alot of folks. my LT and I were against doing the rescue but when you put a few cat huggers together on a moments notice, we had to do it. all the while i was asking, what are we gonna tell a homeowner if we get hit for a structure fire and we are out doig this?

  • Dickey

    Ok, I understand the concept of PR and public service and all that, which I totally support by the way. I just think we have to draw the line someplace. To me it is the risk vs. benefit thing. This particular case would be too much risk for me. How do I know what those power lines are? Or even if they are indeed power lines and not phone or cable? I am not going to gamble and let the power company and animal control take care of it.

  • Marco Lopez

    Another excuse you hear a lot of on this animal rescues is “what if there is a structure fire.” What happens if there is a structure fire and you’re out of service for maintenance? What happens if there is a structure fire and you’re out of service for training. I know a department that puts companies out of service for physical fitness every shift.

    In my department, people are more important than animals. If a structure fire comes in during an animal rescue, we’re going to leave the animal and go to the fire. In this particular instance, it would be no different than when we have the stick up during truck checks. We would have told the cat “good luck,” bedded the aerial and went off to the fire.

  • Midwest

    Hey BCR. You obviously know little about electricity so in itself it shows why people like you should stay away from wires. It is the amperage that kills you not the volts and it takes very little. For starters go pick up a GFCI receptacle, read the specs and today you will learn something. There is a reason why GFCI receptacles have those tolerances.

    Know wonder there are so many mistakes with basket electrocutions. I’m betting that cat would have came down if left alone but I also understand we sometimes get called for things that no one else is willing to do. Hopefully they disconnected the power to those “insulated lines” because there are still risks and since I already gave one lesson for the day I will have to wait till tomorrow for another one so some can grasp what is already spoken. All in fun. Lets be safe out there

    • Midwest

      Yes I “know” it is supposed to be “NO”

  • Southside Chief

    Dickey I understand your point about safety. I’m a Chief as well and my department just went out last month to save a cat…. however it was out of a tree not a pole. But I do believe PR means alot considering all of our donations come from our 1st due community. So I would have went out there, and if need be start the power company to secure the power or whatever. But plain in simple in my eyes if people call fire/ems we go.