The Cornwall Fire Brigade’s latest recruit in the fight againstarson is Charlie, a former rescue dog from the Blue Cross.

A 16 month-old Bearded Collie x Border Collie, Charlie will replace the fire brigade’s current ‘acceleration detection dog’ Nelson, who is due to retire shortly.

‘Acceleration Detection Dogs’ are specially trained to detect any evidence of fire accelerants, such as petrol or lighter fluid. On entering a fire-damaged building they search the site for traces of these accelerants and if they find any, they immediately sit quietly next to the area.

After undergoing two months of training, Charlie attended the Fire Service College in Moreton on the Marsh and passed his competence certification on 22 April. He will then have to re-take this test annually if he is to continue working with the Cornwall Fire Brigade.

Charlie will live and work alongside Nelson and their handler Sub-Officer Richard Gibbons, gradually taking on more of Nelson’s workload until he takes over completely.

Richard said: “I plan to work Nelson and Charlie together for a couple of months, slowly reducing Nelson’s workload. When Nelson eventually retires Charlie will be ready to continue his good work.”

Nelson has worked with the Cornwall Fire Brigade since 1997 and once he retires he will remain with Richard as a pet.

Charlie’s story

Charlie came into the Blue Cross adoption centre in Tiverton, Devon after his previous owners struggled to cope with his exuberant behaviour.

Claire Luscombe who works as an animal behaviourist at the centre thought that the best way to deal with Charlie would be by channelling his energy and giving him a job to do. Seeing how unhappy kennel life was making him she decided to arrange for dog trainer and handler Richard Gibbons to come and visit him.

Richard saw Charlie’s potential and decided to take him on and train him as a replacement for Nelson.