Canine Unit


The Canine Unit (CU) is based at Porthlethen. (Search and Rescue, Diesel and Mac))

Canine Unit Hander – CM Gary Carroll – callsign D18

Fire Investigation Officer Jonathan Honeyman is based in Glasgow. (Flint and Phoenix)


VX14YHO        Vauxhall Van                Portlethen        Photo at foot of page.



In 2015 the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service acquired a search and rescue dog called Diesel, a Springer Spaniel, who works and stays with his handler Crew Manager Gary Caroll. Diesel is based at Portlethen Training Centre and has a harness with a torch on either side facing forward, a bell and a handle for lifting him. He has little boots to protect his paws, doggles to protect his eyes and a floatation jacket for when working near water. Diesel is only trained to search for live bodies and as such attends incidents involving building collapse, train or plane crashes, explosions and river bank searches. Diesel and Gary are members of UK International Search and Rescue and in 2015 they went to help in the aftermath of the Nepal earthquake.

A Fire Service search and rescue dog that has responded more than 300 times to protect communities in Scotland and abroad has now officially retired.
Springer Spaniel Diesel has hung up his protective boots and doggles after helping locate casualties over the past eight years – or approximately 55 ‘dog years’.
The clever canine joined the United Kingdom International Search and Rescue team in 2012 and then the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service in 2015.
And he was trained to use his powerful nose to move quickly through collapsed buildings or across wide areas of land to detect the live scent of an injured or trapped survivor.
Based in Portlethen, Aberdeenshire, Diesel has been working side-by-side with handler Gary Carroll who is a Crew Commander with the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service.
The pair were notably deployed to Nepal in 2015 as part of the UK’s International Search and Rescue team after an earthquake hit the region and thousands sadly lost their lives.
11-year-old Diesel was the first search dog employed by the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service and will officially hand over the lead to his protégé Mac.
Looking back at their time together, Crew Commander Carroll said: “Myself and Diesel have had a great working relationship over the years.
“I’ve had him since the day he was born and have been able to watch him grow into an incredible search dog.
“When we’ve attended incidents he’s always checking that I am OK, in the same way that I have done with him.”
He added: “He’s been a real asset and been able to help firefighters and other agencies at incidents by searching large areas in a short time frame.
“By doing this he’s able to help ascertain whether someone is within the search area – and, if not, then we can quickly move the focus onto another search area.”
Mac is a four-year-old English Springer Spaniel and has been an operational search dog with the national service since October 2019, also based in Portlethen, Aberdeenshire.
Martin Blunden is the Chief Officer for the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service.
He said: “Firstly, I want to thank Diesel for his service – he’s been an important part of our response across Scotland for a number of years now.
“Even though he sees searching as a game, he’s dedicated a large part of his life to helping people when they are in need and that should be commended.
“I’d also like to thank Gary and his family for the hard work and time they have put in to training both Diesel and Mac.”
Crew Commander Carroll works as an Urban Search and Rescue instructor at the training centre in Portlethen.
Chief Officer Blunden continued: “It’s an incredible level of commitment shown by both handler and dog to be there for people across Scotland when needed.
“Whether it is the middle of the night or just as dinner is being served, a call can come in and Gary will drop anything to provide a potentially life-saving resource.”
SFRS news Publish Date: 21 August 2020

SFRS Search and Rescue dog Diesel has been awarded ‘Animal of the Year’ at a recent ceremony in London.
Diesel, a 10-year-old springer spaniel was bestowed the accolade at the International Fund for Animal Welfare awards on Tuesday, October 15, 2019.


Is Scottish Fire and Rescue Service's fire investigation dog who along with his owner Firefighter Jonathan Honeyman received a letter of Commendation from Police Scotland for an incident where Flint was instrumental in the identification of key evidence.
(The Shout, Issue 02, Page 6)

A little dog rescued from a puppy farm is helping to keep people safe after joining a team of specialist investigators at the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service.
Phoenix, a two-year-old spaniel, has been trained over the course of the last year to detect scents that can identify the location and cause of deliberate fires.
The canine also takes part in community engagement work to educate young people about the risks of fire setting; he also provides comfort to the victims of traumatic fire.
He was put through his paces by experienced dog handler and fire investigation officer Jonathan Honeyman, based in Glasgow, who said: "Phoenix has come on leaps and bounds since we first started working together.
“It was quite clear very early on that he had tremendous capabilities for helping with our investigations - he can detect the slightest trace of ignitable liquids up to one metre below debris left by a fire. 
“Phoenix can be brought on site hours, days or weeks after an incident to search a wide radius to trace any evidence, which is a huge advantage to us. He is without doubt a valued member of our investigation team.”
The SFRS has already outlined how firefighters were called to more than 1,700 deliberate secondary fires in Scotland between June 24 and August 26, 2019 as it continues to support people to have a #SaferSummer2020.
These fires can cause injury and death, spread to nearby properties, affect local businesses and also threaten wildlife within areas of natural beauty. Parents and carers are encouraged to discuss the dangers of fire setting with young people.
Jonathan added: “Phoenix will work with community action teams to support educational programmes running across Scotland that support disaffected youths who may become involved in antisocial fire related behaviour.
“These locally run programmes involving SFRS staff and our partners are often extremely successful in outlining the dog’s capabilities and therefore driving down fire setting.”
“If he could speak, I am sure Phoenix would encourage young people to act responsibly this summer and avoid putting themselves and communities at risk.”
Phoenix was rescued from the illegal puppy farm in Aberdeenshire in 2017 by the Scottish SPCA following a lengthy investigation which resulted in criminal conviction.
Manager of the Scottish SPCA’s rescue and rehoming centre in Glasgow, Anna O’Donnell, said: “Our team did a fantastic job with Phoenix, who was in our care for 321 days. Phoenix, being a spaniel, is energetic, very clever and obedient so we thought he was the perfect fit for the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service.
“We are pleased to hear that he is now trained and working to keep communities safe by educating young people on fire safety.”
David Dourley, SFRS Head of Fire Investigation, said: “I’m delighted to introduce Phoenix to our communities and I’m sure this valuable and capable resource will assist our Fire Investigation teams across the country.
“Phoenix not only enhances our fire investigation capabilities at complex fire scenes, but he will support our partners and contribute hugely to community engagement work, also providing comfort and wellbeing support to the victims of traumatic fire.”
(SFRS WEB site, News section.
Publish Date: 05 July 2020 by Angeline Sneddon.)

A young English Springer Spaniel has now joined the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service as its new search and rescue asset.
Three-year-old ‘Mac’ recently passed his grading in Merseyside and was unveiled today as an operational search dog for the Fire Service in Scotland.
The English Springer Spaniel will join his fellow four-legged friend Diesel and help keep Scotland’s communities safe.
Speaking of the recent qualification, dog handler and Crew Manager Gary Carroll said: “It’s a great feeling to be able to now announce Mac as a fully qualified search and rescue dog.
“We’ve had him since he was eight-weeks old so to get to this stage is a real proud moment.
“But it’s not just me that’s been involved, my wife, my family and the Fire Service have really helped us and got us to the stage of qualifying.”
Born in Suffolk, eight-week old pup Mac was taken home to Aberdeenshire by Gary and started his training a short time after settling in.
Gary said: “Training starts very quickly, for instance with Mac, we allowed him to play with his toys by himself for months and then one day we take the toy away and hide it.
“Naturally, he’s annoyed and wants it back but the toy is only returned when he barks - that’s how we build his play drive.
“It’s really important for him to have a high play drive because in reality, searching and finding is just a big game to him.
He added: “If he searches, locates live human scent then barks he’s rewarded with his toy.
“There’s a few different ways to achieve this outcome, but for Mac it was started in the house - my wife would hide in different places and then reward him for finding her.
“That’s then progressed further and we get to the stage we’re at today.”
Mac is now operational alongside current search and rescue dog Diesel – also trained by Gary.
The two will now work together to help protect Scotland’s communities.
Gary explained: “Having two qualified dogs gives me an opportunity to use either where required.
“I’ll be able to use them on a rotational basis which can help with things like fatigue during long searches.
“Although Diesel is a bit older now he’s still fit, capable and happy so he’s able to work on and doesn’t have a set time for retiral.”
The two dogs and Gary are on call and can be called out anywhere in the country at a moment’s notice.
Group Manager Jim Quinn said: “As a national resource that can be used all over Scotland the dogs are a really important asset.
“They are smaller, lighter and more agile than firefighters so they can be sent into collapsed buildings – if safe to do so -  where a person could disrupt the rubble further and cause a secondary collapse.
“The dogs help with the safety of our firefighters but are also able to speedily hone in on a specific area during a search meaning we can take a more targeted approach when searching for someone.
“It’s fantastic to see Mac join Diesel – Gary and his family have done an excellent job in training the dogs.
“While we hope that no one is ever in the situation where either dog is needed, if the situation does arise we know that Diesel and Mac are able to assist firefighters in getting to you.”  
SFRS WEB site, News section. Publish Date: 26 August 2019 By Steven O'Neill.)


 Some of the Brigades before Scottish Fire and Rescue Service was formed had DOGS as mascots.


Diesel                Photo SFRS.

Diesel's working Kit                Photo SFRS.
Top is our rope rescue harness, with orange safety boots below, the red jacket on the left is a flotation jacket, then our camera mount, doggles and normal harness with our red 3 in one jacket at the bottom

Mac                Photo SFRS

Ff Honeyman with Flint                    Photo SFRS

VX14YHO Canine Unit Van in Renfrew yard.                        102_9635                                26/8/2023