I am back at school and, last week, we had the usual fire safety training. (You’d think it were as simple as “Get everyone out and dial 999” but it’s much more complicated than that, and we have to renew the training every year.)
One thing that absolutely blew our minds was finding out that there are fire investigation dogs who are able to identify whether or not a fire was started deliberately. My colleagues are all animal lovers* so the reaction was as one would imagine:
“Oh my goodness!”
“That’s so clever!”
“How do they do that?”
“Do you ask them to bark once for accident and twice for arson?”
*My colleagues’ pets include Winston the tabby cat, Luna the calico cat, Waltham the Dalmatian, Frida the Dachshund, Baby and Henry the parrots and a trio of feral foster kittens who haven’t yet been named because they’ve only just arrived.
Tony the fire training officer eventually said, “Right, that’s enough about the dogs. Can we move on now?” But we didn’t. And, during our coffee break, I was typing “fire investigation dogs” into Google and reading the results to a captivated staff room.
Not only can the dogs sniff out whether or not accelerant was used to start a fire, but they can also locate whereabouts on the site it was used, including across multiple rooms/floors and in unobtrusive locations. What unbelievably clever and helpful doggies. Whereas cats, I’m sure, wouldn’t be so obliging. It’s not that they can’t do clever things. They just don’t feel like it.
The fire investigation dogs were probably the second most important and talked-about part of the day, with the first being, erm, the fact that our school can’t fit cars, staff, students AND the fire engine into our tiny car park without trapping people in close proximity to the burning building. So we need to rethink our emergency assembly procedures.
Anyway, here is Simba, one of the fire investigation dogs who featured in our training (pictured here in his work uniform):
And here is Louis Catorze, who would probably start a fire on purpose if he knew that it would send big, strapping firemen rushing to us: