Archie Cornwall Fire dog 180Cornwall Fire and Rescue Service has welcomed a new Fire Investigation (FI) Dog to identify the cause of fires which are thought to have been the work of arsonists.

Twenty-month old cocker spaniel Archie recently completed his training and will now take over the role previously carried out by Nelson, the service's springer spaniel who passed away late last year.

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Trained to identify minute traces of accelerants, Archie can detect a variety of substances, including petrol, paraffin, diesel, methylated spirits, acetone and BBQ lighter fluid. When he picks up a scent of an accelerant at the scene of a fire, a sample of the material is then sent off for forensic analysis.

He will live with handler Watch Manager Mark Smith, who also trained and owned Nelson. "Nelson was a popular dog and a great asset to the Fire Investigation Team, so naturally we were all shocked at his sudden passing," said WM Smith. 

"Archie has some big paws to fill, but he showed a natural ability during training and enjoyed search tasks. To Archie, this vital work is a game. But it is well known that dogs have a sense of smell far superior than our own and that they can detect the presence of ignitable liquids with greater accuracy and speed than humans, or specialised detection devices brought to the scene."

Archie will also put his paws on social media, taking to Twitter (@Archie_FireDog) to help promote fire safety messages and give an insight into life as a FI Dog as his predecesor Nelson did for almost 4,000 followers.

Watch Archie join the team at Cornwall FRS below: