A FIRE service has launched the run up to Christmas with a safety message thanks to a canine star.

County Durham and Darlington Fire and Rescue Service (CDDFRS) created their own version of John Lewis' Excitable Edgar television advert with recruit Woodie, the fire dog.

The original John Lewis advert follows a clumsy dragon named Edgar who breathes fire every time he gets excited.

Edgar accidentally ends up breathing fire and almost ruins the festivities until he is welcomed back in the Christmas pudding finale.

CDDFRS have put their own spin on the advert and show Woodie the spaniel hindering the firefighters whilst they carry out their work.

Woodie feels left out until he is brought a special gift and made to feel like part of the team.

The firefighters hope to video will encourage family to visit their relatives and show they care by checking smoke alarms.

More than 470,000 people have watched the video and the service said it has seen an increase in people getting in touch to arrange safety and wellbeing visits.

Firefighters hail the success of the video to the spaniel who came to the service from Gloucestershire Constabulary when he was 14-months-old.

During his training he came to the attention of PC Claire Todd, who is the handler of police dog Stella the Staffie.

PC Todd contacted CDDFRS fire investigations manager Lee Aspery and they agreed for Woodie to undergo some initial training to test his capabilities.

Woodie sailed through the assessments and on October, 24, 2017, he was officially sworn into the fire service by chief fire officer Stuart Errington.

Following intensive fire investigation training Woodie is now CDDFRS’ fire investigation search dog, working with his handlers to alert them to evidence as to the possible cause of a fire by finding potential accelerants such as petrol.

He is so accurate he can find a cotton bud with two drops of petrol on it on a football field in under four minutes.