Reggie the cocker spaniel helping sniff out arson

A dog is helping the Northern Ireland fire service detect whether a blaze was started deliberately.

Reggie, a four-year-old cocker spaniel, has undergone specialist training to sniff out ignitable substances and accelerants in exchange for a tennis ball reward.

His keen sense of smell is more accurate than technology and helps reduce the time taken to investigate, a senior officer said.

Group Commander Geoff Somerville said: "The types of incidents that Reggie may be deployed to include fatal fires, fires where there is a likelihood of a fatality occurring and where it is suspected that an accelerant may have been used.

"He may also be deployed to other incidents including those when the cause appears to be deliberate but cannot be easily established."

Based in Enniskillen with his owner and handler station commander Tim Richmond, Reggie will be available to assist fire officers and investigations across Northern Ireland during the pilot scheme.

Reggie with his handlers at NIFRS (NIFRS/PA
Reggie with his handlers at NIFRS (NIFRS/PA)

Mr Somerville added: "Fire investigation dogs have been shown to bring many benefits including speed, reliability and efficiency when investigating the cause of fires.

"Their keen sense of smell - which is more accurate than technology designed to detect ignitable substances - helps fire investigation teams provide a higher level of accuracy.

"The speed at which they can sniff out ignitable substances has reduced the time required to investigate the scene of a fire."

Mr Richmond said he had kept Reggie since he was a pup.

"He has had intensive training by one of the leading fire dog trainers in the UK and is certified by the Fire Service College in England.

"For Reggie it's all about sniffing out accelerants to achieve his reward - a tennis ball.

"I've seen at first-hand Reggie's detection abilities and I look forward to sharing his expertise with my colleagues across Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue service.

The pilot will run until July 7.

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