AN ace new recruit has recently joined the team at
Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service (GMFRS).
Earlier this year fire dog Ace joined the Service - and he is
also part of the national resilience register to help with search
and rescue operations if needed.
Yellow Labrador Ace graduated from Merseyside Fire and Rescue
Service (MFRS) Training Academy with flying colours and is now
ready to hunt for survivors when disaster strikes.
Crew Manager Mike Dewar, who is GMFRS' dog handler and part of
the Fire Investigation Team, introduced three-year-old Ace to the
Service in September 2011.
Mike said: "Ace took to his early training really well and
demonstrated all the characteristics that are required of a good
search dog - he is very fit and agile with a search drive that
allows him to be totally focused on his work.
"It has taken 18 months to train him to the appropriate
standard, which involves many facets of search and rescue during
which a high degree of trust has been built up between us.
"Ace learned in the early days by watching older search and
rescue dog Echo work the rubble sites and started off doing very
basic work, but due to his drive he was soon undertaking the same
searches as more experienced dogs."
The assessment that all Urban Search and Rescue (USAR) dogs must
undertake to gain competency are done at one of three locations in
the UK - The Fire Service College, MFRS, and Lincolnshire Fire and
Rescue Service's USAR training facility.
Mike continued: "The robust assessment is designed to simulate a
real USAR incident with all the distractions that would be found
such as food, people and noise, and always starts with a
comprehensive brief by the handler to the assessment team.
"It's vital that the dog being assessed has the ability to work
in dangerous and challenging environments."
Chair of Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Authority (GMFRA)
David Acton said: "To take a normal family pet and train it to be a
highly trained search dog, which is now a national asset for
resilience, takes a lot of hard work and dedication by the handler
and the dog."
Nine-year-old Echo will be Ace's right-paw dog until he hangs up
his boots once and for all later this year.