Busy times for Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service dogs
Norfolkâ€™s Fire and Rescue Service dogs have had a busy few months providing essential support for the Service as well as Norfolk Constabulary for the safety of local communities.
Paolo, a black and white Springer Spaniel, is now fully trained and has been operational since July 2014. He joined the Fire and Rescue Service as their second search dog within the Urban Search and Rescue Team.Â Â
The two year old, whose official title is â€˜Forensic Evidence and Victim Search Dogâ€™, is mainly being used to locate high risk missing persons as well as assisting with other recovery work.Â He is also specialised in blood detection and searches for bodies in and out of water.Â Â Paolo is the only specialised Fire and Rescue Service dog of his kind in the UK.
The majority of incidents Paolo has attended have been in Norfolk, but his specialist canine skills have also been used in Hertfordshire.Â Paolo is used along with Hooky who is USARâ€™s other search and rescue dog. Hooky who is a seven year old black Labrador, joined Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service in 2010 and helps find live casualties.
Ben, the current Fire Investigation Dog, attends incidents where he uses his canine skills to detect potential arson. The seven year old black Cocker Spaniel has been with Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service since June 2012.
Paolo and Ben have attendedÂ 19 incidents in total since July last year, including severalÂ outside of the county.
Jackson, a one year old black Labrador, has started his formal training to be the Serviceâ€™s second Fire Investigation Dog. It is hoped he will be qualified in August this year. He will then work alongside Ben to help investigate fires by detecting accelerant which may have been used in cases of arson.
Paoloâ€™s handler Steve Polley said: â€œHe has been excellent and is certainly a dog you can rely on. Since completing his training, Paolo has been called upon to attend a number of real-life incidents and his enthusiasm for work continues.
â€œAll of the dogs are a huge asset to Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service as well as the police, working closely with our dive team. Their skills are being called upon more and more. One recent incident involved four consecutive days of search and rescue.â€œ
Benâ€™s handler Peter Abbs said: â€œBen continues to be a valuable member of the Fire Investigation Team within Norfolk. His ability to quickly search a fire scene and determine whether any traces of an accelerant liquid is present speeds up the whole investigation process and enables more accurate samples being sent off for analysis. Without doubt, if an ignitable fluid is used to start a fire then the chances of being caught have increased dramatically since Ben became a member of the fire investigation team.â€
Norfolk is the only Fire and Rescue Service in the East of England to have an operational dog unit.