A team of Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service (LFRS) staff have given their time to be trained as peer support volunteers, along with their beloved pets, to offer a listening ear to their colleagues across the county.
This is the first of its kind to be offered within a fire service in the UK, supported by Lancashire Combined Fire Authority.
The six well-being support dogs, which range from labradors to a Jack russell terrier, will help colleagues who may be struggling with their mental wellbeing and to build their personal resilience.
The dogs can now be called upon to spend time with staff who may have attended a difficult job, are suffering from stress, or having a bit of a tough time.
Bekki Ford, Safety, Health and Environment Advisor for LFRS said: “The well-being support dogs are a fantastic resource that we have introduced into our service in 2022.
“It’s so important that all our colleagues feel they can have someone to talk or turn to when they need it. By having the dogs, it means we can continue to battle mental health stigmas and provide education, information and support via their handlers.
“I hope that by having this within LFRS, we can lead the way for other fire services to introduce this wellbeing resource for themselves.”
Dogs are known for increasing oxytocin and serotonin levels with people and can help to lower blood pressure. They are perceptive to different emotions and can recognise anxiety and stress, which will instantly calm those in need of a morale boost.
Alongside the well-being support dogs, Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service also have five fire and rescue dogs, who recover victims and search for live casualties who are trapped or missing.