The smell of success - donation helps fire investigation dogs

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Tails wagged as a £5,000 cheque was presented to the K9 Fire Investigation dog team which is helping Humberside Fire and Rescue Service ‘sniff out’ cases of deliberate ignition and engage more with the community.

The High Sheriff of East Yorkshire, Jim Dick OBE DL, and Trust Director Paul Cheeseman visited Humberside Fire and Rescue Service Headquarters to meet Firefighters Mike Shooter and John Willingham of K9 Fire Investigation and their two dogs Etta and Aston. Also in attendance was Chris Blacksell, Deputy Chief Fire Officer. Mike and John were presented with a £5,000 cheque which will be used to allow them to carry out community safety work with Etta and Aston.

K9 Fire Investigation (K9FI) was set up by Mike and John in 2014 as a community interest (not for profit) company (CIC). Etta, a black Labrador and English Springer-Spaniel Aston have successfully completed the six week Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) Fire Investigation Dog Course. The purpose of K9FI is to provide Humberside Fire and Rescue Service with fire investigation dogs to assist with arson detection.

Fire investigation dogs can rapidly detect accelerants, such as petrol, often several days after a fire. Consequently they can help save significant sums of money that might otherwise be spent on specialist investigators and forensic testing costs. The dogs also serve as a community safety asset by engaging with members of the community to raise awareness of fire safety issues and prevent fires occurring in the first place. It is also felt that it is important to show that Humberside Fire and Rescue Service are proactively investigating the cause of the fire and seeking to ensure arsonists are prosecuted.

Dog handlers Mike and John said: “We are very grateful to the Tribune Trust for their support, it will enable us to take a more active role with the dogs in providing valuable fire safety and arson awareness education to more schools and community groups whilst still carrying out our fire investigation duties with Aston and Etta.”

Deputy Chief Fire Officer Chris Blacksell also welcomed the generous donation: “I am delighted that the great work that Mike and John do with Etta and Aston in helping us establish the cause of fire can now be extended to proactive community safety work to try and reduce arson and other causes of fire. I’m extremely grateful to the Tribune Trust for funding what I think will be a vital service.”

Paul Cheeseman, Director of the Tribune Trust said: “We are delighted to be supporting the work of K9 Fire Investigation. Mike and John deserve credit for the initiative they have shown in setting up a community interest company and putting such a huge amount of effort into training Aston and Etta. The work they are doing will make a big difference in reducing and solving arson and making our communities safer places. The Trust wishes them and Humberside Fire and Rescue Service every success with this initiative”

• For more information about the work of the Tribune Trust please visit Tribune Trust