Fire Investigation Dogs - Week 8

posted 3 Jul 2012, 04:44 by Gaff Elliott   [ updated 3 Jul 2012, 04:55 ]

[This post is taken from the personal blog of an employee and all views are their own.  All content is reproduced with permission]

Week 8

Mansell, Geoffrey, Lucy and Millie pose for a photo opportunity during a break in training.

This week marked the last week of training for the dogs, but there was no let up in pace as lots of new areas were searched and questions asked of the dogs as to their suitability to be a fire investigation dog. We were again excellently hosted and guided by Dave Peplow who arranged the working areas for us at Washington Hall, the Lancashire Fire Training and Development Centre in Euxton, near Preston. We were also very fortunate to be able to use the training facilities at the Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service, Training and Development Academy, near Liverpool.

The focus this week was to replicate as near as possible the working conditions a fire investigation dog has to deal with on any given operational search. As can be imagined the conditions of a fire damaged building can be very challenging for a dog especially regarding insecure footing, the strong odours of burnt materials, and darkness to name just a few.

Lucy at the entrance of the crawling gallery

In these conditions we are looking for a good positive attitude from the dog as well as the ability to remain focused and provide an indication or alert on any flammable liquid, or accelerant  that may be present in the search area.

Millie remains alert and focused whilst working in the dark and confined conditions of the crawling gallery.

The exercise went well and we were pleased with all of the dogs’ progress and their general attitude when working in the crawling galleries. 

Week 8 Part 2

A photo opportunity at the Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service Training and Development Academy

Continuing the 8th and last week of training and we were hosted by the Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service at their Training and Development Academy who allowed us access to the ‘fire house’ which  provided different challenges to that of the crawling gallery by replicating conditions of a fire damaged domestic house.

Millie climbs the steps prior to entering the fire house.

Dave Peplow of Canine Specialist Services, who was our guide and training advisor for the week, explained that the individual rooms and floors of the fire house can be filled with smoke in a controlled manner for fire fighters’ to conduct their training.

Millie is put through her paces


This gave us an excellent opportunity to expose the dogs to the darkened, smoke scented and sooty conditions that they would be confronted with in an operational environment.

Mansell takes centre stage in the gloom of the fire house and gives a great indication on a tricky scent placement


Any doubts that we may have had quickly faded as all the dogs performed well in the challenging conditions.

A precise indication from Millie just prior to being rewarded


In potentially dangerous areas the need for on lead control is essential, demonstrated in this pic as Geoffrey investigates a dark void

The fire house training was the last challenge of the week for the dogs, and the culmination of what had proved to be a thoroughly enjoyable and ultimately successful training course. However, this is just the beginning for the dogs as they will be put up for acceptance by the Malaysian Fire Service in the near future as a new life and experiences awaits them in Kuala Lumpur.

On behalf of Vikkas Canine Services I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Lancashire and Merseyside Fire Services for their co-operation in allowing access to their training areas which has proved to be invaluable in the final stages of training. Finally, VCS are indebted to Dave Peplow and Mick Woods of Specialist Canine Services for their time, help, technical advice, and guidance during the last two weeks of training, the successful completion of which would not have been possible without them. Both Dave and Mick have been involved with training and handling fire investigation dogs for many years and they have been very generous in sharing their their depth and wealth of technical knowledge with VCS which has been invaluable to both me and Marcus in the training of Millie, Mansell, Lucy and Geoffrey.

(All pictures from week 8 of training are re-produced by kind permission of Dave Peplow – is there no end to that man’s talents!)