Cornwall fire dog Nelson 5Members of Cornwall FRS have paid tributes after the Service reported that Nelson, its Fire Investigation Dog, has passed away after a short illness.

Nelson, a seven and a half year old springer spaniel, had been an invaluable member of Cornwall Fire and Rescue Service for the past six years. Along with handler Mark, Nelson played a key part in training his longer term future successor Archie to take on this important role early next year.

Chief Fire Officer Paul Walker said: "Nelson has been an extremely valuable member of Cornwall Fire and Rescue Service, his ability and skills were both incredible to watch and have led to successful investigations of very complex incidents. His role beyond fire investigation in engaging people young and old has helped to spread the safety message and he will be sadly missed."

As part of Cornwall’s fire investigation team Nelson was trained to sniff out the smallest and most sensitive of smells and, with a nose thousands of times more sensitive than a human nose, was able to sniff them out with ease. Nelson completed specialist training every year, and was rewarded every time he found an offending object or smell. This meant he saw his job as a game and was always very happy to work.

Nelson lived with his handler Watch Manager Mark Smith and his family who trained and cared for Nelson. In his fire investigation role Nelson worked both with Cornwall Fire and Rescue Service and fire and rescue services outside Cornwall to help identify the cause of fires, particularly arson. His expertise has helped to identify cases of arson in support of both Fire and Police investigations, helping to lead to the conviction of those responsible.

Along with Mark, Nelson's role also extended beyond fire investigation. He was very popular with everyone he met, especially the many school children he helped to learn about fire safety. Nelson was one of the first fire dogs to have his own presence on social media, with his Twitter account delivering fire safety messages to almost 4,000 followers.

Geoff Brown, Cabinet Holder for Communities added: "Nelson has been a great asset to Cornwall Fire and Rescue Service and I know he will be greatly missed by everyone he came into contact with and, not least his handler Mark and his family, who developed such a close bond with Nelson."