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Meet Barney, the new fire dog starting work with Nottinghamshire Fire and Rescue Service

Barney the Sprocker Spaniel and dog handler Tim Marston will work together to detect ignitable fluids at the scenes of suspicious fires


A new fire investigation dog team has joined Nottinghamshire Fire and Rescue Service.

Barney the Sprocker Spaniel and dog handler Tim Marston will work together to detect ignitable fluids at the scenes of suspicious fires, often getting results within minutes.

Barney can also search vehicles, clothing, houses, boats, or any building including large outdoor areas.

Tim said he and Barney will be “double trouble” alongside the service’s existing dog investigation team, Dave Coss and cocker spaniel Dexter.

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PICTURED: Barney the new fire dog (IMAGE: LDRS)

Both teams can be deployed across Nottinghamshire, Derbyshire, Leicestershire and Lincolnshire. They can also attend incidents across the UK if needed.

Tim first joined Nottinghamshire Fire and Rescue Service 30 years ago, aged 22.

He joined the fire investigation team later in his career and bought one-year-old Barney in December 2021.

Tim has been training him ever since – and in two weeks’ time he will become an official working fire dog.

Barney will not go into a building where there is a fire – instead, he will sniff out ignitable fluids at scenes – in return for a tennis ball as a reward.

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Tim, who’s full title is Regional Hydrocarbon Detection Dog Handler, told the Local Democracy Reporting Service it was “a privilege and an honour” to be in the role.

He said: “All this is a game to Barney. The tennis ball is king from a training perspective. He is looking for his reward and he knows he gets that if he finds the ignitable liquid. 

“It may be we go to a scene and there’s nothing to find, but it’s equally important for us to prove that.

“It was always hoped that he would become a fire dog but it’s like telling him he’s going to be the next world champion racing driver. You never know what you’re going to get.

“It was a win-win for me in that if he didn’t become a fire dog, I’d gained a pet.

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“He’s a family dog and loves cuddles and playing in the park as normal dogs do.”

Tim says with two dog handlers and two fire dogs, there is now “increased resilience” in the region.

He said: “We talked hypothetically about when the other dog handler retired, who was going to plug the gap.

“We will work very closely with Dave and Dexter.

“We train the dog to search and then we introduced the ignitable liquids.

“The dog never goes in a building or an area where there is a fire. The boots are for the protection of the paws, we also have different boots so we don’t get cross-contamination at scenes.”

Bryn Coleman, Head of Prevention, Protection and Fire Investigation at Nottinghamshire Fire and Rescue Service, added: “It’s great to have Tim and Barney join us as a second fire dog team. The pair will bring critical resilience across the region, and beyond.

“We take deliberate fire setting very seriously at Nottinghamshire Fire and Rescue Service, and work hard to discourage the behaviour.

“We will always be there for our communities when you are in need, but not only do deliberate fires put people at risk, they take us away from other emergencies. Tim and Barney will be an invaluable part of tackling arson and keeping people safe.”

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