Fireman Ham moves to pastures new

A 14-stone pig rescued by welfare charity HorseWorld has retired from his job working with Avon Fire & Rescue Service this week and moved to a farm with other pigs where he can relax and enjoy a well earned retirement.

Dominic was rescued by HorseWorld two years ago after his elderly owner died. After several escape attempts, Dominic soon started working with Avon Fire & Rescue Service, teaching firefighters how to move and handle animals which may need moving during an incident without startling or harming them.

The cheeky 200lb pig has helped train dozens of firefighters how to work with escaped animals.  Many firefighters across Avon Fire and Rescue Service have had 'escapology lessons' with Dominic which has earned him the nicknames ‘Fireman Ham’ and ‘Dominic the Fire Pig’

Fire officers are regularly trained at HorseWorld’s Welfare Department by expert staff. The course involves simulating rescue situations, including assisting a fully articulated model horse out of a ditch, as well as safely moving animals around the farm. Rescuing injured, stuck or trapped animals, or catching escaped animals who have made their way onto roads, is part of a firefighter’s job, and the animal training is a big help for them.

Animal safety lecturer Dawn Watkins, who runs the course, said: “Dominic is a very friendly pig, he loves people and likes to be the centre of attention so having everyone run around after him makes his day. He was the ideal candidate to help train these fire crews. He has now however, reached a stage where he knows his job so well that he goes where he is supposed to on his own so is not really a challenge for the crew to move. He was offered a home on a farm with other pigs where he will be kept as a pet and will receive lots of attention so we decided to let him retire. He may still make appearances here and there where he comes back to train the fire service on the odd occasion which he will enjoy.

“The Fire and Rescue service will be sad to see him go. They usually start the day a bit wary of the pig but by the end of the training, he's everyone's best friend. It's impossible not to love him.'

Station Manager Gary Weeks, who is the Avon Fire & Rescue Service animal rescue lead advisor, said: “As a fire and rescue service we are attending more incidents involving large animals so it is vital we have the right training to ensure the welfare of those animals and ensure that our crews are safe when dealing with incidents of this nature.

“Trapped or injured animals, like cows, pigs and horses, may pose a real threat to our firefighters as they may try to kick or bite in a traumatic situation. Working alongside Dominic has been really useful in giving our staff the knowledge and confidence they need when dealing with animals. I would like to thank Horseworld, and Dominic in particular, for helping us with our training and we wish Dominic a happy retirement.”


Article by: Amy Williams

Posted on: 14th March 2014