My mate Nelson the Arson Detection Dog!

On the dog and bone!

On the dog and bone!

Herro efuryone Hawwy here,

Now as yoo all know by now I likes to have a broad range of intervoos. Well I was delighted when I was asked by de Cornwall Fire Service @Cornwallfrs to intervoo der vewy vewy speshul Arson Detection Dog Nelson @Nelson_firedog so here is de result of our intervoo on Tuesday………….

Hi Nelson fanks fur doing an Intervoo wiv me. So where is yoo fwom and how old is yoo?

Firstly thank you Harry for asking me. I’ve never been interviewed by another dog but always hoped the day would finally come!  I’m originally from the West Midlands and was being trained to become a gun dog…. However it wasn’t really for me as I didn’t like the feathers in my mouth! My birthday is on 14 May so I will soon be 5 years old (about 36 in human years).

Yoo is a twained Arson Detection Dog. What inspired yoo to choose dis career?

Well, my career kind of chose me I guess!  I was spotted by Clive Gregory (who was the first fire investigation dog handler in the UK), as he thought I’d make a great fire investigator.  It just so happened at that time, Cornwall Fire and Rescue Service were looking for a replacement; Charlie (Cornwall’s fire investigation dog) was due to retire.  

 I’ve always loved to be help people, be rewarded and please my handler, so when I was offered the fire investigation job in Cornwall I couldn’t wait to take them up on their offer! Who could refuse a new home in the beautiful county of Cornwall with an endless supply of tennis balls and beaches? 

What does an Arson Detection dog do and how many of dem are der in de UK?

 The Fire and Rescue Service will call us and our handlers out when a fire occurs and arson is suspected.  We’ll only search the fire scene once the fire is out and the scene is cold. My safety and the rest of the teams is always a top priority when we are doing our investigations.  

If I track the vapour given off by an ignitable liquid (e.g. petrol, paraffin, diesel etc, I will indicate the location of the substance to Mark (my handler).  I do this by putting my nose towards the strongest scent of accelerant and I’ll freeze.  I’ll then go from a standing to a down position to indicate my find. When I have a successful ‘find’ I get rewarded with my favourite tennis ball, which makes me wag my tail like mad!

 There are approximately 15 fire investigation dogs working in the UK; however this does vary at times due to retirements; like Cornwall’s Charlie and of course Nelson Senior (we howled out loud (HOL) when we realised we both had the same name).  In the South West there are two of us working; Mac is from Avon and his handler is called Ken Bennett.

What twaining did yoo have to go through in order to qualify fur dis amazing job?

I had to go through a lot of training initially to build a bond with my handler Mark when I was only 9 months old.  When I was just over a year old I successfully completed my certification at the FireServiceCollege in Morton. Each year, me and Mark have an annual assessment with other Fire Investigation Search Dog Teams (FISDT’s), which we have to pass in order to qualify for our license to be able to carry out fire investigations.

What does it mean to yoo to be able to help ofur people?

 Being able to help others means a huge amount to me.  Arson is a terrible crime so to help the victim(s) is always going to be rewarding.  When I make an appearance at community events, the lovely members of the public always make more of a fuss over me then Mark, which I love! HOL

 At the community events I particularly enjoy showing off my skills to the lovely people who are watching me.  They’re usually amazed when they see me in action, as I can show them just how good I am at sniffing out and finding the teeniest tiniest spot of accelerant.  

What is a typical day like fur yoo?

In short, a typical day for me is always fun and generally involves a bit of play with my tennis ball.  I spend the majority of my time with my family which consists of my mum Purdy, my sister Marley and my blood son Murphy.  Mark will take me out to public events too which takes up the rest of my time and of course the fire investigations that I attend, which are on average 2 per month.

Does yoo have a uniform? (Dat question is fur de furry ladies out der!)

Sorry to disappoint all you lovely ladies but I don’t quite have a uniform like all those brave firefighters do. I only have my paw protector boots, which I wear at fire scenes, my reflective harness so I can be seen at all times and my doggy lead. 

Uniform shot fur de ladies out der!

Uniform shot fur de ladies out der!

How does yoo twain yoo hoomin to be as pawsome as yoo?

 It was hard work to start with I must admit.  Mark was new to the role so it was bound to take time to get to know each other.  After our initial training period together (6 weeks) Mark really formed a bond with me and me with him!  He quickly picked up on how to understand my signals and learnt what I expect from him as my handler; mainly a big supply of tennis balls! HOL  

What safety tips would yoo like to share wiv efuryone?

Blimey where do I start! Well firstly it’s so important that everyone should keep safe by taking simple steps to make sure they prevent a fire from happening in the first place. 

 Secondly they should protect themselves, which is basically by ensuring your home has a working smoke alarm and that it’s tested weekly.  If you don’t have a smoke alarm then you can call your local Fire and Rescue Service to see if they can help.  If you live in Cornwall, you can contact us by telephone free on: 0800 3581 999 or by completing our online form found at: (Check out the rather fetching photo of Mark in uniform holding a smoke alarm. HOL)

 Now where was I? Oh yes and thirdly, make sure you and your family are ready to respond should a fire ever happen in your home by being prepared and having an escape plan already prepared. If you need a little help with this you can find a template on our website and information on how to make one:

 If you follow these 3 simple steps, you and your family will be much safer and I will sleep well at night knowing that you all have working smoke alarms!

Where can we find more info on fire safety and awareness?

 There are several ways you can find out more so make yourselves comfortable. You can:

  • Visit your local community fire station; our firefighters are always on hand to help and would love to meet you, so feel free to pop along and say hi to them.
  • Visit our website: which ontains a huge amount of interesting information.  If it’s specifically fire safety information you want then visit: 
  • Follow us (and of course me!) for up to date news and information from our social media accounts Facebook and Twitter.
  • Contact us through      any of these ways:

Is de anyfing yoo would like to add?

Yes, I would just like to take this opportunity to say a big thank you to you Harry for doing this interview (I’m such a big fan of yours! *Blushes*). Also a huge thank you to all the support the public give me and of course my Twitter followers.  It makes my job so much more rewarding knowing that I am reaching so many dogs and people far and wide with my safety messages.  I hope to make many more friends along the way.

Now me being me I could not leave Nelsons staff Mark out of de intervoo so I puts some questions to him too after he used his sad hoomin eyes on me! Who could resist!………….

Hi Mark fanks fur doing an Intervoo wiv me. So where is yoo fwom and how long has nelson lived wiv yoo?

 Hi Harry, I’ve lived in Cornwall my entire life.  It really is a great place to live and work.  Nelson has been living with me now for nearly 5 years.

Yoo is handled by Nelson who is a twained Arson Detection Dog. What is he like as a boss?

Nelson is a great boss, although I would obviously have to argue it is the other way round!  He’s very chilled and relaxed and not like your average Springer Spaniel that’s for sure.  He does however demand a lot of attention and loves a good belly rub.  He’s extremely dedicated to his job and is extremely good at what he does.

Yoo is a Fireman is dis right? What inspired yoo to choose dis career?

 Yes that’s right but the proper title is firefighter, as we have both men and woman working in the Service.  I started working at Cornwall Fire and Rescue Service in 1991 because I wanted a change in career.  I wanted a job that I could actively play a role in to help the community, whilst also working with animals. So I have to say, my job really is perfect for me!

What twaining did yoo have to go through in order to qualify fur dis amazing position of bein Nelsons staff?

I had to undergo an interview which was carried out by two members of the Cornwall Fire Investigation team; one of which was the previous fire investigation dog handler, Richard; who looked after Charlie and Nelson Senior.  I had to confirm my knowledge of the Fire Safety Law, the Fire and Rescue Services Act 2004 and prove I had the ability to look after, maintain and handle a dog.  As I already owned two other dogs, I passed this with flying colours and they have all since become a part of Nelson’s family.

What does it mean to yoo to be able to help ofur people?

It’s great and a very rewarding job.  I particularly enjoy being able to engage with members of the community at events. Me and Nelson regularly attend open days, schools, colleges and a range of community groups to give talks on our role in the fire and rescue service.  It’s always well received, and Nelson always gets the most attention!

What is a typical day like fur yoo?

My typical day is always extremely busy! I work in the prevention department which is a small team of hard working individuals.  We work tirelessly on fire and road safety campaigns throughout the year and also visit homes in the community giving free home fire safety checks.  I also regularly visit schools, where give presentations on fire safety and what my role involves as a fire investigator.

Does yoo and Nelson get to ride around in de Fire engines?

Sadly not for Nelson but I occasionally do when I cover stations that have staffing shortages.  Me and Nelson are lucky as we have our own very special van to travel around in so if you ever see us, do give us a wave.  You can’t miss us out and about as the van is clearly signed on all sides.

Nelson and his staff.

Nelson and his staff.

Does yoo and Nelson do talks and show? Does yoo go to schools and fings like dat?

Yes we attend many talks and shows throughout the year.  It’s our chance to show members of the public what we do and how we work together.  You should pop along to see us Harry.  All our events are added to the Cornwall Fire and Rescue Service website:

Does Nelson live at home wiv yoo?

He sure does but he has his own luxury apartment in our garden where he sleeps along with his mum, sister and son.  We always enjoy spending quality time together when we are home and go out for lots of walks and trips to the beach. There’s never a tennis ball too far away either!

Is de anyfing yoo would like to add?

I hope everyone enjoys following Nelson from his twitter account – He always fills me in on all his activities and messages he receives which is always very nice to hear.  Nelson tells me he’ll be using his Twitter account to give regular updates on what he’s been up to along with some helpful tips on how to keep you and your families safe.  He may not always be available to respond but will always have his ear to the ground, that I am sure of!

So der yoo have it what an amazin pair dese too weally are. I feels safe in de knowledge dat dis pawsome duo are out der doing us all pwoud. As Nelson would say Stay Safe.

Wuv yoo all

Hawwy xxx

6 thoughts on “My mate Nelson the Arson Detection Dog!

  1. Pawsome interview, Harry *reading with interest* I think Nelson is my hero ! And I love the bootees he wears on duty. Keep up the wonderful work, Nelson *high paws*

  2. Bwilliant intervoo Hawwy n gweat to hear about da pawsome Nelson n da wurk he dus. Fanks fur sharing boys n makin da hoomans aware of what an amazin job yoo do .Love the uniform shot xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

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