Specially trained dogs join fire and rescue service to sniff out people trapped under rubble

A canine squad is joining the fire and rescue service to sniff out people trapped in collapsed buildings.

The squad, known as urban search and rescue dogs, will receive specialist training for 18 months to two years to develop its acute sniffing skills before being ready for service.

Each dog - usually a collie or springer spaniel - will be kitted out with protective boots and jackets.

London will get four rescue dogs, with 16 others assigned to specialist units at fire and rescue services across England.

Similar dog squads have been used in rescue operations after the Boscastle floods in Cornwall, the Pakistan earthquake, and the 9/11 disaster.

The dog squad is being funded by a £430,000 investment announced yesterday by fire minister Parmjit Dhanda.

Dhanda said: "These dogs are real life savers as shown by their heroic efforts in all parts of the world.

"Their skills are crucial to giving the fire service the best possible chance of finding people alive in collapsed buildings. With this investment, the new dog squads can be called to any part of the country whenever needed."