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 more than 1200 followers now hanging on his every tweet.
Nelson (@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 firefighters.
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 (@SpanielHarry).
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 Cornish residents.
"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.
To follow Nelson on Twitter visit http://www.twitter.com/Nelson_FireDog
To follow Harry on Twitter visit http://www.twitter.com/SpanielHarry