Fire service bid fond farewell to rescue duo

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A specialist rescue firefighter and his faithful companion are to retire from the West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service after years of service.

Darren Booth will retire from the Urban Search and Rescue (USAR) along with Springer Spaniel Spencer.

Spencer, along with handler Firefighter Darren Booth.

The pair were first united when Spencer was just nine weeks old, back in April 2008.

Darren, a keen dog lover with an eye for talent, commenced training with Spencer straight away.

After two and a half years of rigorous training, in December 2011, Darren and Spencer were officially accredited with ‘Canine Assessment of Competence’ by the Chief Fire Officers Association National Resilience.

For Darren, in addition to his canine handling skills, certification included tests on search strategies and tactics, mapping, search and victim markings, briefing and debriefing skills.

Over the past four years Spencer has been helping search teams to locate casualties.

Darren, 55, has enjoyed almost 30 years with WYFRS, he was on the 115th recruit course, joining the service in 1986. He worked at Brighouse before serving at Cleckheaton, where he has spent the past 20 years on Green Watch.

WYFRS Technical Rescue Officer, Station Manager Mark Hitchcock, said: “Darren has committed a huge amount of time and effort to the USAR Canine Search Capability, both nationally and within WYFRS.

“He has helped drive national policy and the training framework, for canines and handlers, which will serve the capability well in the future.

“Darren’s unstinting enthusiasm, dedication and work ethic are commendable and both he and Spencer will be greatly missed.”