Kai and Cara are Fire Investigation and Search and Rescue dogs working for West Midland Fire Service. Boo went to meet them and their handler Mat to find out about the important job they do. In this blog he finds out that it’s not just people that they help! They meet at a local fire station.
Cara: They’re not big cars Boo, they’re fire trucks. Impressive aren’t they? You can have a little peek inside. We don’t get to ride in them unfortunately. Our work tends to happen after the incident, but we do get to travel in our very own ‘dog truck’ it’s got cages for us so that we are safe, and it even has blue lights and sirens so that we can get to the incident as quickly as possible!!
Boo: So tell me a little bit about your work.
Kai: Well Boo, I’m what they call a Fire Investigation dog!! It’s my job to help the Fire Officers to find out how a fire has started, their noses are pretty rubbish, but my keen sense of smell can sniff out traces of flammable liquid left behind after an arson. That way, we can find out if a fire was an arson, and how the fire started, once we have a suspect, I can even search their house and clothes to find evidence there too!!
Cara: That’s pretty impressive Kai, but I do a different job to him Boo, I’m a search and rescue dog, it’s my job to find people who are trapped in collapsed buildings and the like, I can also be used to find people who have got lost or wandered off somewhere, sometimes people (especially children and old people) get lost and confused, I can search places like woods and parks to help find them.
Boo: That’s amazing. What sort of training do you have to do to become a Fire Service dog?
Kai & Cara: Well first and foremost you have to be brave, strong and willing to have a go at anything!! We do all sorts of crazy stuff in training, how many dogs do you know who go abseiling, power boating, riding in helicopters and squeezing through tiny spaces and pipes?? We do!! We can’t be scared of heights either because sometimes we have to go up ladders of get a lift in the hydraulic platform……that’s cool!!
When we are searching we have to keep a cool head and not panic if things around us start banging and clanging!!
We also have to make sure we don’t get travel sick, sometimes we go to jobs on ‘blues and twos’…….Dads driving can be a bit ‘wobbly’ and we need to make sure we arrive at the job ready to go!!
We practice searching lots, we aren’t allowed to use our eyes too much and have to practice using our noses to find what we are looking for!! When we are young we start off by looking for tennis balls, then, as we get older Dad hides other things for us to find, if we find them we then get a tennis ball as our reward!!
For me (Kai) Dad hides flammable liquids like petrol and white spirit for me to find, sometimes he tries to catch me out by hiding tiny amounts for me to find!! I always find them!! Cara gets to play hide and seek, she has to find people who are hidden from view, sometimes they might be hiding under the ground, or even up a tree!! Cara – Sometimes I’m really lucky and when I find them I get to play tug of war, secretly I think I prefer tug of war to chasing tennis balls, but don’t tell Dad!!
Cara: You know what Boo, who knows!! I was going to be a Police dog like my Mum, Dad and Brothers and Sisters, but apparently, they said I was too nice!! I mean, too nice!! How can a dog possibly be too nice?? So maybe you could….you’ll have to come on one of our training days and have a go!!
Boo: I’ve heard that your human colleagues sometimes find dogs in houses that are on fire. How do they help them?
Kai or Cara: Up until recently, if we rescued an animal from a fire we’d have to try and give them oxygen using the humans face masks!! They don’t really fit very well, and it was always a bit of a struggle. Then, some really kind people called Smokey and Paws I think (odd names for people, but hey!!) decided to do something about it, they are raising money to buy special face masks for animals for all the Fire Services in the Country!!
Some of our Fire Stations have been lucky enough to be given some of these masks, unfortunately, there isn’t enough money to buy some for every fire station yet, but Smokey and Paws have promised us that they will do everything they can to raise enough money to do that. I hope they do.
Boo: Gosh, I think I could help with that. I’ll ask my human if we can do sponsored event again to raise money for Smokey Paws Charity. Leave that with me! I like to help my fellow pooch when I can.
Kai: We’ll help too Boo, by telling people about your efforts. Keep us up to date with your plans on the Birdy site.
Cara: It’s called ‘Twitter’ Kai.
Boo: Yes I will! I’m thinking sponsored Obstacle Course and Swim Challenge, although I’m not sure how my human will cope so I better get her into training!
If you want to find out more about Kai and Cara, follow them on Twitter (the Birdy site!) @WMFireDogs https://twitter.com/WMFireDogs
Smokey Paws is Saving Animals Lives’ across the UK.
Smokey Paws is a not for profit organisation on a big pet lifesaving mission. Smokey Paws aims to get specially designed pet oxygen masks into the UK fire service and wherever multiple animals exists such as wildlife sanctuaries, kennels and catteries so that pets have a better chance of survival.
With 46% of UK households owning pets and with over 42,000 housefire in the UK alone last year, there is no wonder over 2 Million Brits have lost pets in housefires, not to mention how many animals could come to need them in wildlife sanctuaries and rehoming centres. Smokey Paws believes that if oxygen is available at the scene it should be used as effectively as possible, alongside specially shaped pet oxygen masks which would enable the pet to get 95%- 100% oxygen as opposed to only 5% if using the human oxygen masks.
Smokey Paws was set up by Brian Lockyer and Lynn Carberry. It started when they were discussing how they would get their Labrador out in a house fire and they noticed that these pet oxygen masks are widely available in America but weren’t available yet here in the UK.
Find out more www.smokeypaws.co.uk