Top dogs on cloud ca-nine after acing exams

Top dogs on cloud ca-nine after acing exams

Hoodie and Harley are key parts of the team when it comes to putting away arsonists and rescuing people

These sleek black Labradors are the latest additions to the fire service… but they have very different jobs.

Hoodie is the newest addition to HFRS's fire investigation team having just passed his tests with Hampshire & Thames Valley Police to be a fire investigation dog.

He will be working through the Arson Task Force with canine colleagues Ruby, Harvey and Millie.

In its first 10 years this Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service unit has supported the police in convicting arsonists and getting them sent away more than 500 years. They are at the heart of many large incidents.

These highly-skilled dogs can sniff out trace qualities of ignitable liquids and are one of the factors in making the fire investigation team among the most successful in the country.

The fire investigation dogs are also a valuable asset in delivering community safety messages to a wide variety of groups from the Women’s Institute to cubs and brownies.

Harley has been trained for a different role and will be deployed with the Urban Search and Rescue (USAR) team to hunt for missing people in disaster zones.

He is trained to detect live human scent and alert rescuers.

As well as attending incidents in Hampshire and the UK he is now part of an international response squad – UK International Search and Rescue (ISAR) - that can be deployed to the aftermath of earthquakes, landslides, tsunamis or volcanic eruptions.

Dog handler Graham Howlett, who works for both the Arson Task Force and USAR, trained the dogs which also live with him.

He said: 

“These dogs are among the most valuable bits of kit a firefighter can have in their toolbox.

“Their natural attributes allow them to do things that people just can’t whether that is to detect a tiny trace of lighter fluid or search an immense area of rubble for signs of human life.

“These dogs save lives and make the people of the county safer – and when they are not doing that they are members of the family.”

Graham introduced the Arson Task Force’s first two fire investigation dogs Saxon and Inca when the Arson Task Force was launched more than a decade ago.

On the USAR front Harley is following the paw steps of Bryon and Shelley whose handler was Hampshire’s Robin Furniss.

Harley has also just passed a gruelling set of high-level tests to enable him to attend international disasters.

The dogs have been called out to a variety of incidents ranging in scale from the tsunami in Japan down to a gas explosion in Woolston.

Top dogs
Top dogs