Everybody knows that dogs are man’s best friend, but did you know that fire investigation dogs have been around since 1996?
Jump forward to 2018 and there are now 17 fire investigation dog units around the UK, with the demand for more units, giving testament to the vital work carried out by the dogs and their handlers.
1. There’s no better tool for smelling than the nose of a dog
They can detect scents from explosives to accelerants (a substance that prompts the spread of a fire) and can also be trained to detect the scent of a human in a search and rescue case. The primary role of a fire investigation dog is to find the accelerant to provide evidence of what caused an intentional fire.
2. They have to go through extensive training
Becoming a certified fire investigation dog is not a simple task and each potential recruit is put through quite a lot of training. When first introduced to the fire investigation scene, the dogs were used to detect the presence of ignitable fluids. Training back then was very different from what it is today. These days, a fire investigation dog is expected to work at heights, be deployed from a boat and even work in quite hazardous, high risk conditions.
3. They can even sniff out signs better than high-tech equipment
On the frontline of fire investigation, there are many benefits of having such an enthusiastic companion. The sensitivity of the dog’s nose allows it to detect ignitable liquids with greater accuracy than electronic field equipment. In detecting the ignitable liquids, these intelligent animals are also able to tell the difference between a natural hydrocarbon and one that may have been introduced to the scene illegally. This level of accuracy has quite a large positive knock-on effect as costs are reduced due to there being less samples needing to be sent for expensive forensic testing.
4. They can speed up the investigation
When considering the advantages of having a fire investigation dog unit, it’s important to remember how quickly they speed things up for the investigation in hand. A fire dog can search an area of around 400-500m2 in under 10 minutes, with great accuracy. This is quite a considerable investigation speed when compared with that of a human fire officer. A fire officer would be expected to search an area of 20-30m2 in around four hours.
It’s hard not to marvel at such skill, and often the work of these furry experts goes unnoticed. This incredible service will continue to grow and as it does so will the reputation of these marvellous creatures.
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