The Urban Search and Rescue (USAR) canine course, at the Western Australian Fire and Emergency Services Academy in Forrestfield, is aimed at strengthening Western Australia's capacity to respond to the collapse of buildings and other structures.
"This innovative course is the first of its kind in Australia, and is being attended by international and interstate emergency services personnel," Mr Francis said.
"The course will provide volunteer canine handlers with the expertise and knowledge to teach their dogs to detect people buried under rubble, with a focus on agility skills to enable them to access hard to reach areas.
"Canines are superior to people and equipment in undertaking this lifesaving work. When disasters such as earthquakes or cyclones strike, it is essential we have highly trained and skilled search dogs ready to be deployed at a moment's notice."
The Minister congratulated the Department of Fire and Emergency Services (DFES) for its work to develop and implement the specialised training course.
"This course will enable us to increase our USAR capacity not only in WA, but also our ability to help interstate and internationally," he said.
"The course will help in fast-tracking USAR canine handlers, who come from DFES and the general public, to become operational."