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Paramedic training fire dog for career
BY BARRETT J. BRUNSMAN
MIAMI TWP. – Smokey Bear now has a partner in Clermont County: Krieger the fire dog.
The 2-year-old German shepherd can demonstrate to children how to stop, drop and roll if their clothes catch fire.
Krieger also can climb a ladder, and he can hop atop a utility shed or other high structure.
The dog’s repertoire of tricks can even help illustrate what to do if a child gets lost in the woods.
Lee Hines, the Miami Township firefighter and paramedic who is training Krieger, expects the dog to share such lessons with students next school year.
Several Boy Scout troops have toured the firehouse where Krieger works, and “everybody loves the dog,” Hines said.
Because children are fascinated by Krieger, public safety messages sink in, Hines said.
For now, Krieger is busy training to get certified as a search-and-rescue dog.
Guided by the smell of people on air currents, Krieger can locate someone missing in the woods or trapped in a collapsed building or trench, Hines said.
Since January, when Fire Chief James Whitworth received approval from Miami Township’s Board of Trustees, Krieger has reported to a firehouse on every 24-hour shift worked by Hines.
Krieger is the only fire dog in Clermont County, and one of just a few in Greater Cincinnati, Hines said.
It’s important that Krieger get used to the sounds of fire trucks, chain saws and other heavy equipment that might be used during an emergency, Hines said.
The arrangement also allows Hines to train the dog without interruption, forming a useful bond.
When he’s not being put through his paces in the parking lot or woods behind Station 27 at Branch Hill-Guinea Pike and Wards Corner Road, Krieger racks out on a mat in the TV lounge – next to the couches where firefighters/paramedics relax during down time.
The dog has the run of the firehouse – except for restrooms – but must stay off furniture.
Hines is required to keep an eye on Krieger and clean up after him. When Hines is fighting a fire or responding to a call for emergency medical service, Krieger waits in a small kennel next to a washer and dryer in the utility room.
The cost to Miami Township was about $120 for the kennel and about $60 for two mats at Station 27. The total price is about $550 because a kennel and two mats were bought for each of the three fire stations in the township. Hines might be assigned to work a shift at any of them.
The dog belongs to Hines, 37, who lives in Miami Township. The cost of food, veterinary care and liability insurance is paid by Hines.
A native of Germany, Krieger cost Hines about $2,000.
Krieger’s name is German for “warrior,” and the dog responds to commands that Hines barks out in German – such as “sitz” for sit and “aus” for when Krieger is to drop something out of his mouth.
Aside from such basic commands, “I don’t speak German,” Hines said.
“He’s kind of bilingual,” Hines said of Krieger. “If I’m in a loud environment where tools are operating, I can give him hand commands.”
While he’s the son of purebred show dogs, Krieger is suited for search-and-rescue missions because of his energy, agility and work ethic, Hines said. It’s a plus that he’s relatively small for an adult German shepherd.
Police dogs can weigh more than 100 pounds, Hines said, while Krieger weighs about 70 pounds. The firefighter/paramedic, who is 6 feet and weighs 210 pounds, said he might have to carry the dog for stretches while searching a collapsed building or the woods for someone who is trapped or lost.
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