Fire Service has first sniffer dog recruit

Thu, 15/03/2018 - 12:27 -- Editor

A specially trained Fire Investigation Dog is being piloted by Northern Ireland Fire & Rescue Service (NIFRS) to assist Fire Officers during complex fire investigations.   

Reggie, a 4 year old Cocker Spaniel, has undertaken specialist training to identify and sniff out a variety of ignitable substances and accelerants which can help Fire Officers in determining whether a fire has been started deliberately.

Based in Enniskillen, with his owner and handler Station Commander Tim Richmond, Reggie will be available to assist Fire Officers and investigations across Northern Ireland during the pilot.  

Group Commander Geoff Somerville, Northern Ireland Fire & Rescue Service (NIFRS) explains:

“Fire investigation dogs have been shown to bring many benefits including speed, reliability and efficiency when investigating the cause of fires.  Their keen sense of smell - which is more accurate than technology designed to detect ignitable substances - helps Fire Investigation Teams provide a higher level of accuracy.  The speed at which they can sniff out ignitable substances has reduced the time required to investigate the scene of a fire.

“The types of incidents that Reggie may be deployed to include fatal fires, fires where there is a likelihood of a fatality occurring and where it is suspected that an accelerant may have been used.  He may also be deployed to other incidents including those when the cause appears to be deliberate but cannot be easily established. 

“Fire Investigation dogs are used in a number of other UK Fire & Rescue Services and we’ve been tracking the benefits that they bring.  Reggie is a great new asset for NIFRS and will be mobilised across Northern Ireland when a request is received by the lead Fire Investigation Officer or indeed our colleagues in the Crime Scene Investigators Unit in the PSNI”. 

Reggie’s Owner and Handler, Station Commander, Tim Richmond said:

“I’ve had Reggie since he was a pup and knew that he would make a great Fire Investigation dog.  He has had intensive training by one of the leading fire dog trainers in the UK and is certified by the Fire Service College in England.   For Reggie it’s all about sniffing out accelerants to achieve his reward – a tennis ball. 

“I’ve seen at first-hand Reggie’s detection abilities and I look forward to sharing his expertise with my colleagues across NIFRS.” 

The pilot will run until 7 July 2018 and will be evaluated after this period.