Luna gets licensed! WMFS Urban Search and Rescue Dog gets formal accreditation


Discover how Luna, a Belgian Malinois and Urban Search and Rescue Dog, has earned full accreditation and is now a vital part of the West Midlands Fire Service (WMFS) team.



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Published on 19 January 2024

Pawfect result for Luna, as she earns full accreditation to work at home or abroad in search and rescue operations

Our Urban Search and Rescue Dog, Luna, has been fully licensed to work in the UK and internationally after successfully passing her grading.

Shortly after achieving her result in Devon, Luna supported the wider UK International Search and Rescue (UK ISAR) team on their United Nations reclassification exercise in Switzerland, which was passed with flying colours.

Luna’s quick integration into the team means West Midlands Fire Service (WMFS) has a fully-graded urban search and rescue (USAR) dog on the team once again, following the death of her predecessor Cara in late summer.

Luna, a Belgian Malinois, partners with Firefighter and UK ISAR volunteer Mick Attwood, who doubles up as her handler in addition to his regular role at Bickenhill, one of our Technical Rescue Unit stations.
“She is a real live wire, but that’s something we choose,” said Mick. “Dogs from working breeds aren’t necessarily the animals people normally have as pets. It’s about managing them and their enthusiasm.

“The role can be challenging, but is so rewarding. It’s a unique position to be in.”

Luna giving a big grin sticking out her tongue

USAR dogs were part of the UK ISAR team that travelled to Turkiye and Morocco earlier this year, as WMFS and other services answered the call for help after devastating earthquakes.

“For finding people, the dogs are essential,” Mick explains. “As much technology as there is, nothing comes close to how the dogs work – the speed and efficiency with which they go out and find people is incredible. They cover large areas in short periods and that’s what we rely on to identify where people are.”

Rob Norman

Bickenhill Station Commander, and UK ISAR Co-Ordinator.

The dogs are a phenomenal asset, whether that's overseas or here at home.

Like Mick, who has supported three international deployments this year, Rob Norman, Bickenhill Station Commander, and UK ISAR Co-Ordinator, knows only too well how valuable the dogs are whilst the team is working in the field.

Said Rob: “The dogs are a phenomenal asset, whether that’s overseas or here at home. They bring the ability to locate individuals who may be trapped, lost and in need of rescue.

“The work and commitment that goes into getting dogs like Luna up to standard is beyond compare. Mick carries out a ‘day job’ in the Technical Rescue Unit like everyone else on the watch. In addition, there’s the drive, commitment, and patience in getting the dogs where they need to be to deliver that life-saving service when we deploy.

“As firefighters, we don’t take fire engines home, walk them in the morning or house them. Mick’s bond with Luna shows the hours that are put in at home result in life-saving opportunities, as we’ve seen throughout the year.”

Luna stood to attention with her tongue out on some rubble
Luna with the UKISAR team after accreditation at an event in Geneva