Reqs, Britain's longest-serving fire investigation dog, has been awarded a prestigious PDSA Medal for his devotion to duty during his 11-year career.

The black Labrador, now aged 12, attended more than 500 fires during his career with Hertfordshire Fire and Rescue Service, and assisted with many high-profile investigations into potential crimes including murder and attempted murder.

He became the 42nd recipient of the PDSA Order of Merit at a ceremony at Hertfordshire’s Joint Emergency Services Academy in Stevenage earlier today (Thursday, November 23).

Reqs worked alongside his handler, Watch Commander Nikki Harvey, to find vital evidence - such as petrol - that could be used by police in court. Evidence located by Reqs helped to put convicted offenders behind bars for a combined total of 250 years.

He was selected from his litter in 2012 to become a fire investigation dog, and throughout his career took part in several high-profile investigations.

These included an incident in Leicester where 26 litres of petrol was ignited in the basement of a shop, causing an explosion that resulted in five deaths. He identified vital evidence for the police, which helped secure lengthy custodial sentences for three offenders.

He also helped provide evidence in a case where a family had been threatened, falsely imprisoned, and had petrol poured over them.

The Comet: Reqs with his handler, Watch Commander Nikki HarveyReqs with his handler, Watch Commander Nikki Harvey (Image: PDSA)

Reqs even helped save the life of another pooch - after a house explosion in Clacton, he swiftly found the head of a Border Collie emerging from the debris. She had been under the rubble for two days, and was suffering from dehydration when she was discovered by Reqs.

One of Reqs's final jobs was at the scene of this year's fire in Baldock industrial estate, where he was present alongside his "protégé" Loki as the fire service sought to uncover the cause of the blaze.

Reqs finally stepped down from his duties in July 2023.

Commenting on the award, PDSA director general Jan McLoughlin said: “We’re incredibly proud to be honouring Reqs with our PDSA Order of Merit today.

"His outstanding devotion to duty and service to society has been demonstrated time and time again throughout his long career, and his exceptional skills go above and beyond that of normal companionship, making him a very worthy recipient of the award. Receiving the PDSA Order of Merit is a fitting tribute to his lifetime of dedication and hard work.”

Reqs’ handler and owner Nikki, who has worked for Hertfordshire Fire and Rescue Service for 30 years, added: “Reqs is a huge asset to the Hertfordshire community and surrounding areas, he plays a vital role in establishing the causes of fires and without him, deliberate fires would take much longer to investigate.

The Comet: Reqs attended more than 500 fires during his 11-year career.Reqs attended more than 500 fires during his 11-year career. (Image: PDSA)

"I’m so very proud of him, and it’s a real honour and privilege to see him receive this award today.

“Reqs is an amazing dog who as well as his devotion to duty and service within the fire service, he’s also a loving member of our family. He’s helped me through many tough times, at work and personally.

"Together we’ve attended some traumatic scenes, but he’s the one who pulls me through and we always had a hug at the end of a bad day! Reqs is retired now and enjoying every minute! He still loves playing with his toys and going on long walks.”


PDSA’s Animal Awards Programme was instituted in 1943 by the charity’s founder, Maria Dickin. She believed that, if animals were recognised for their heroic actions, it would help to raise their status in society, ensuring they are better treated.

The PDSA Order of Merit was added to the programme in 2014 and recognises animals who display outstanding devotion above and beyond normal companionship, and animal acts that symbolise their special relationship with humans.

To date, the charity has awarded the PDSA Order of Merit to 30 dogs - including Reqs - and 12 horses.