December 23 2014 Latest news:
Wednesday, August 6, 2014
It’s a battle to be top tog for the latest batch of Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service recruits.
Rookies Paolo and Jackson have just joined up and are ready to spring into action at any moment and prove themselves.
And after a successful mission, the pair like nothing more than running around chasing a tennis ball.
They form part of the elite canine squad, trained to find people in danger and investigate fires.
Jackson’s handler Peter Abbs, 50, said the 17-week-old Labrador has a long way to go before he’s ready to go out on rescues.
He said: “Jackson is full of beans and at the moment I’m just getting him socialised.
“It’s very important, for all dogs, to be out and about to hear and see lots of different things.
“We want him to be comfortable in any environment.”
When he’s fully trained, Jackson will join Peter’s other dog Ben in the Fire Investigation Department.
The two of them will go to scenes where arson is suspected and sniff out traces of accelerant such as petrol or lighter fluid.
When going into scenes where glass may have shattered in a blast, both the dogs will wear special boots to protect their feet
Peter said: “In about six month’s time when we get calls for Ben, he’ll be the licensed dog but when he’s done we will use that scene as training for Jackson.”
Steve Polley has been with the fire service for 39 years and trains Paolo, an 18-month-old Springer Spaniel.
Paolo will join six-year-old Hooky in search and rescue operations is the only Fire Service dog in the country trained to look for bodies.
He trained with Northumbria Police before coming to Norfolk Fire and Rescue and Steve said it was a long process.
He said: “You start by teaching a dog to find a tennis ball and gradually you replace it with material. You give him a tap and away he goes.
“It brings closure to a family. If you can retrieve that body they’ve still lost someone, but at least they know where they are.”
Peter is happy to see the dogs working with officers and is looking forward to getting results.
He said: “Each dog will be a very valuable asset. Ben has transformed the way fire investigations work, particularly in suspicious scenes.”
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