Essex County Fire & Rescue’s, Search and Rescue dog Kirby, has retired after a career with the Service spanning more than 80 dog years.
Kirby, 11, will bravely step down from operational duties with immediate effect following advice from vets after first visiting our Service at seven weeks old.
Initially attached to London Fire Brigade until our former Search and Rescue dog Darcy retired, his incredible operational work as part of our Service and Urban Search and Rescue team began back in 2012.
Just three days after he finished his specialist training he was called to a demolished house in Clacton, which had collapsed after an explosion.
Less than a minute after beginning his search, the English Springer Spaniel assisted Clacton fire crews in finding a man who had been trapped for several hours.
The incident set the tone for what was a truly remarkable tenure as our Search and Rescue dog which has seen him airlifted in helicopters, abseil down buildings and support partners including police forces, ambulance services and even the military.
Other incidents attended included the fatal collapse of Didcot Power Station in Oxfordshire in 2016, where Kirby was one of four dog teams.
Kirby has featured at hundreds of open days across Essex alongside handler Graham Currie, meeting thousands of residents and helping to share key safety messaging to those who may be vulnerable or at risk.
Ever popular at public events, Kirby has also played his part in raising hundreds of pounds for charity. Supporting Stanley’s Heroes, which raised more than £10,000 for Clacton firefighter Rob Newman’s son Stanley, was one of many great examples.
Kirby has even featured on national TV on several occasions, including on the BBC’s Mega Cities documentary with Andrew Marr and famously back in 2017 on ITV’s Inside London Fire Brigade – which you can check out below!
Later that year, Kirby was given the Outstanding Award for Community Safety at our Celebrating our People Awards, alongside Graham and fellow Search and Rescue dog Jarvis. In 2018, they would also go on to be named runners up for the same award.
Graham said: “I am incredibly proud of Kirby and his achievements. He is truly one of the very best at what he does – and that is why he is so well thought of not only at our Service, but across the UK.
“Kirby will still come along to events and open days throughout the county and I know many of you will be keen to see him as always, so please do come and say hello.
“Thank you to everyone for your messages of support. Kirby will now enjoy a well-earned retirement.”
One of Graham’s other dogs, Jarvis, is continuing to undertake training to become fully operational and will now have big paws to fill!