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16/09/2016, 17:02

Firefighting dogs are going to save people form fire

Fire services are now recruiting dogs in tiny boots to help put out fires

A new breed of firefighters have been recruited across the UK to put out flames with their tiny boots.

They’re known as ‘hydrocarbon detection dogs’ and they are being used to enter dangerous buildings to check for flammable liquids.

And they wear little dog boots for paw protection.

There are currently 17 fire investigation dogs across the country and now two Yorkshire-based firemen have set up a non-for-profit company to provide their hydro dogs to the fire service and police.

Mike Shooter and Jon Willingham’s company K9 FI trains the dogs to enter buildings wearing their protective boots after fires have been put out and cooled down.

They are able to detect various fuels, as well as fire starters used to ignite fireplaces and barbecues.

They then mark their finds by scratching before firefighters remove the flammable substances or take a sample for lab testing.

But despite their protective boots, it’s still a risky job for the dogs.

‘There are always risks and dangers to the dogs when they go into a building because of the debris,’ says Mike – who owns and works with Labrador Etta.

‘The amount of glass and fragments on the floor mean the dogs always have to enter buildings with their protective boots on.’

Mike says that part of the training is getting the pups used to wearing the shoes, because most don’t like having things on their feet.

The dogs are trained for six weeks alongside those preparing to become police dogs, as the process is the same.

The only difference is that hydro dogs have to learn how to recognise different smells too.

Etta and springer spaniel Aston – who belongs to Jon – have been attached to the Humberside Fire and Rescue Service in Hull, since last February.

‘Everywhere I go, Etta goes,’ says Mike.

‘We’ve developed a close bond which is really important and a lot of the training is about learning to identify the body language of the dogs.’

Mike and Jon hope to expand K9 FI to work over the whole of Yorkshire, and they are now training up a puppy called Sox.

‘We’ve started training Sox up and he’s coming along quite nicely,’ says Mike.

‘It’ll be good to have another dog in case Etta or Aston become injured or unwell.’

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