How to make friends and influence people – Twitter, according to Cornwall’s fire investigation dog Nelson
Last updated: 04/03/2013
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Cornwall Fire and Rescue Service’s (CFRS)
fire investigation dog has promised his new found fame on Twitter
will not take him away from the day job.
Four-year old Springer Spaniel Nelson has built up a steady
following since joining the social media site last year, with
around 1,160 followers hanging on his every tweet.
(@Nelson_FireDog) regularly posts updates about his unusual life
with owner/handler Watch Manager Mark Smith alongside fire safety
advice and updates from incidents attended by Cornwall’s
While Nelson is the first UK fire investigation dog on Twitter,
he has discovered many four-legged friends through the site. And
his status in the canine world is set to soar thanks to cult dog
blogger and author of ‘Help, my Dog’s on Twitter’, Spaniel Harry
The pair have become firm friends since exchanging views on
Twitter about tennis balls and treats and Harry recently
interviewed Nelson for his ‘Spaniel Harry’ blog.
Harry’s owner Heather Nesbitt said: “When CFRS asked Harry if he
would be interested in interviewing Nelson we jumped at the chance.
It is a great way to help promote the good work that Nelson and the
fire service do and I am proud that we are helping in some small
way to achieve that.”
“Nelson and me have so many things in common,” added Harry. “It
was great to intervoo him and he was easy to talk to. When he
wanted to achieve more followers on Twitter, I knew it was somefing
I could help wiv. It was amazing to help Nelson go from just under
700 followers to over 1,100 in a few hours! I am proud to call
Nelson my fweind.”
Nelson has now invited Harry and his owner Heather to Torpoint
Community Fire Station.
“I’m really proud of the response we’ve had to Nelson’s
Twitter page,” said Mark. “When we first started on social media,
our aim was to promote fire safety messages and provide timely
reminders about checking smoke detectors and other tips for staying
safe. And, of course, musings from Nelson.
“As a result, we have built up a nice community of Twitter users
from dogs and dog charities to other fire and rescue services and
“We could never have imagined that we’d gain more than 1,000
followers and I’m delighted. For his part, Nelson has promised that
this new found fame will not go to his head and he will continue to
clean his own fire boots!”
Nelson joined Mark, and Cornwall Fire and Rescue Service (CFRS),
in July 2009. When not at work, the FI dog lives with Mark and his
family in Bodmin along with the Smiths’ three other dogs.
As CFRS’s only FI dog - or hydrocarbon detection dog, to give
him his official title – Nelson is brought in to identify the cause
of fires which are thought to have been the work of arsonists.
Nelson is trained to detect minute traces of ignitable liquids,
which include a variety of substances such as petrol, paraffin,
diesel, white spirit, methylated spirits, cigarette lighter fluid,
acetone and BBQ lighter fluid.
When he picks up a scent of an accelerant at the scene of a
fire, Nelson will indicate the exact spot to Mark and a police
Scene of Crimes Officer (SOCO). Samples are then sent off for
forensic analysis with the aim that the evidence will support any
Read Spaniel Harry’s blog and interview with