Two Bristol dogs have joined Avon Fire and Rescue Service to help search for casualties.
The dogs, Labrador Sally and Springer-cross Buddy, are based at Hicks Gate fire station.
Firefighter Rachel King, who is in charge of Sally’s training, said: “The role of a modern firefighter has changed and Avon Fire and Rescue Service deals with an increasing number of varying incidents, one of which is urban search and rescue.
“To assist with this, the service currently has two USAR dogs in training at Hicks Gate fire station.
“Buddy, a two-year-old Springer-cross, is looked after and trained by firefighter Martin Tully on blue watch. He came from a rescue centre and was selected because he was too lively for his previous owners.
“Sally, a two-year-old Labrador, is looked after and trained by myself on green watch. She joined the service from a gamekeeper in Wales.”
The two-year-old dogs are undergoing training to be ‘air-scent’ dogs. They will be able to locate live casualties in different environments. They will also be kitted in special equipment so that they can operate in hazardous areas.
They’ve been training for a year using rewards of toys and a game of tug.
During their training, they’ve been introduced to people of different races, ages and backgrounds.
They’re taught to stay with casualties once they’ve found them and alert a handler with a bark.
They’ll be fully incorporated into the fire service once they pass their grading in March, 2019.